McGriggs makes case for Ockimey

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

REGINA -- Lamar McGriggs wears his heart on his sleeve, and it was obvious yesterday that he had something he wanted to get off his chest.

It turns out the Winnipeg Blue Bombers linebacker couldn't believe that fellow linebacker and special teams star Ron Ockimey was taken off the roster for tonight's Labour Day Classic against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"I can't understand that," McGriggs said. "We put 533 yards up on offence (last week in Hamilton), but to have another guy on special teams to shut down (Saskatchewan's Corey) Holmes and their return guys ... Ockimey hasn't played a lot, and he's got nine tackles on special teams.

"That's telling me that we're losing something on special teams. I guess we gain something by having (Keith) Stokes back, but we put a lot of yards up last week in Hamilton without Stokes."

REST AND RELAXATION: The Bombers are 2-0 in the Labour Day Classic since they began staying at Moose Jaw's Temple Gardens Mineral Spa Resort Hotel in an effort to avoid the Saturday night shenanigans of raucous football fans in Regina.

"If that's the reason why we're winning, hopefully we can stay in Moose Jaw when we play in Ottawa and Montreal, too," Bombers slotback Milt Stegall said.

YIKES! Just how bad is Saskatchewan's offence? The Roughriders lead 10 of the CFL's defensive categories, yet they've lost five games in a row.

"We owe the defence a lot more than one (game)," said 'Riders quarterback Nealon Greene, who hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in four straight games. "We owe them these last nine games. You'll see a big turnaround (tonight)."

SHIVERS PRAISE: Roughriders GM Roy Shivers had more important things on his mind that taking shots at his prairie-rival Blue Bombers. In fact, he believes they are actually improving.

"They're in a rebuilding mode, they've got good personnel," Shivers said yesterday. "I've been impressed with the offence the last couple of weeks, they've put a tremendous amount of points on the board. We're a veteran ball club but we're a young ball club and with our injuries, we've become even younger. They're comparable and we'll see who plays the best (tonight)."

His 'Riders have been ravaged by injuries.

"It screws your continuity up and it screws your budget up because we've had something like eight starters out and they're all high-end ball players," he said. "But there's nothing you can do about it.

"We've had some young guys who've stepped up to play and if we can stop putting the ball on the ground, we'll be OK."

The futures of both Shivers and head coach Danny Barrett are starting to be questioned here.

"It's not how you start, it's how you finish," Shivers said. "And the last three years, we've finished pretty well. I'm hoping we can do the same thing here."

BLOODY CLASSIC: Bomber LB Ryland Wickman not only loves the intensity of competing in the Labour Day Classic, he relishes playing on Taylor Field turf.

"The thing I always remember about these games is this turf and just getting bloody and being on the field like a real football player again, and having some blood roll down your arms and wiping blood on your uniforms," he said. "I miss that in the CFL. You don't get to get dirty or too bloody too often because of all the Field Turf we have. So, this is one opportunity where you get to feel like a football player again. It's a good time for me, I enjoy it."

LATE HITS: How do you know it's Labour Day weekend in Regina? A young man in the Regina Inn lobby yesterday had a T-shirt that read "Transcona Drinking Team" and a 15-pack of beer under his arm ... Winnipeg's two changes for tonight's game are OL Cory Annett for OL Mike Abou-Mechrek (head) and SB/KR Keith Stokes for LB Ron Ockimey.


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