One of the most dangerous weapons that Winnipeg boasts will almost assuredly be missing in action when the Blue Bombers play in Hamilton on Friday.
Not only is kick returner/slotback Keith Stokes suffering a shoulder injury, he had to return home Sunday to be with his ailing mother. Even if Stokes were to return in time, the shoulder would likely prevent him from playing, Bomber GM Brendan Taman said yesterday.
In that case, receiver Darnell McDonald would replace Stokes as both a kick returner and slotback, said head coach Jim Daley.
"He's a very good returner," Daley said. "Darnell McDonald, if he plays this week, will give us a new weapon in the slot, too, with his 6-foot-4 size. He's not a burner, necessarily, but he's very deceptively fast and he does not drop the ball. And if you need a block on the run game, you know, 100%, you've got it."
Both Gilles Colon and Chris Brazzell are also taking turns at returning kicks. However, Daley does not want to risk tailback Charles Roberts as a returner, especially without Stokes as a backup.
To add insurance at running back, the Bombers picked up Graeme Bell, a University of Saskatchewan product who had been in Montreal's camp.
BROWN DOUBTFUL: Also doubtful for Friday is defensive tackle Doug Brown (sprained foot), who was not even at yesterday's practice.
"Doug has never missed a game and of course, he could go all week without practising and I would play him if he said he is physically ready to play," Daley said.
If not, then Jon Oosterhuis would replace him with Martin Lapostolle as a backup.
BACK AGAIN: With defensive co-ordinator Rod Rust attending to a family medical problem, Urban Bowman has answered Winnipeg's SOS once again.
"This is the third straight year that I've come in at halftime," Bowman said. "Maybe they figure I can't make it through the whole season, I don't know.
"When you love the game the way I love the game and when you love the CFL the way I love the CFL, and the way I love Winnipeg then hey, I'm happy to be here in whatever capacity that they'd like to have me."
Meanwhile, secondary coach Dave Easley will call the defensive signals from the press box, with defensive line coach John Kropke relaying them to the players on the field.
HASHMARKS: Bombers are interested in veteran CB Dedric Mathis, who was cut by Hamilton ... Bomber OL Jermese Jones was allowed to return home to attend his best friend's funeral and could be back ... Both WR Scott Cloman and OL Danny Frame were released from the practice roster.