Ryland Wickman has followed Joe Tuipala's career from a distance since the two worked out together five years ago in California.
Today, Wickman's view of Tuipala's career probably feels a little too close for comfort; Tuipala is about five stalls down from Wickman in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers locker-room.
They both play middle linebacker, the Bomber defence is as bad as it's ever been, and the brass is ready to make changes now that Winnipeg (4-10) is all but eliminated from CFL playoff contention.
"I'm sure they're going to figure out a way to get him out there," said Wickman, a six-year veteran. "Who knows? Right now it's looking like it could be at my expense.
"... It's part of the deal here. I've been put in this situation for the last three or four years."
Tuipala, who spent this past spring in NFL Europe and was an XFL all-star in 2001, isn't in Winnipeg just for a sniff of the CFL. The 29-year-old signed a two-year contract plus an option for a third that would take him through the 2007 season.
"I'm looking forward to being here for a little while," Tuipala said yesterday after his first CFL practice in the biting cold, which had to be tough for the Samoan from Honolulu.
"(But) I've got a lot to learn and a lot to do before I get out there and help the team."
Bombers head coach Jim Daley said the chances that the 6-foot, 235-pound Tuipala will play on Monday against the B.C. Lions (11-2) will depend upon how quickly he picks everything up.
QUOTABLE: "The more they do this, the more it's going to be hard to get rid of me. If you want a guy to retire, to go out peacefully, why do you keep sitting him down and letting him get healthy and fresh? They're never going to get rid of me doing it that way."
-- Bombers LB Lamar McGriggs, who apparently wasn't too pleased that he had to sit out the last game with an "ankle injury."
QUOTABLE II: "Lamar, back healthy, is a guy we missed. We want him back on. He played very well prior to that, so I sure don't want to see him sitting around."
-- Daley, when asked if McGriggs would be getting back on the roster this week.
LATE HITS: DB Syniker Taylor had to travel to Mississippi on Monday night to be with his mother, who is dealing with hurricane Katrina damage. It's unknown if he'll be back in time to play Monday ... DT Doug Brown, who injured his right foot against Montreal on Sept. 25, didn't practise yesterday when the team had its first workout following its bye week. Brown hopes to practise tomorrow ... OL John Feugill (knee) is out for the season, so it's expected Dan Goodspeed will move from left to right tackle and Jermese Jones will come off the practice roster to play left tackle ... WR Patrick Thibeault has left the Bombers practice roster ... The Lions have reportedly signed former Calgary Stampeders PK Clinton Greathouse to push the struggling Duncan O'Mahony.