Secondary is still work in progress

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

The offensive line needed improvement, and it got fixed.

The receiving corps needed improvement, and it got fixed.

The secondary needed improvement, and, well, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are still trying to fix it.

The team's secondary woes surged to the forefront again Sunday when Toronto quarterback Damon Allen passed for a season-high 484 yards in the Argos' 35-32 win.

Allen's numbers included two passes for 69 yards in the final minute that set up Noel Prefontaine's game-winning, 20-yard field goal.

"Damon Allen is good, but I don't think he's that good," cornerback Omar Evans said.

Despite the fact that Evans and fellow cornerback William Fields, along with halfbacks Stanford Samuels and Brad Franklin, have been together for most of the season, Bombers head coach Jim Daley said it's not time to cut bait and look for new talent.

"The people we made the changes with on offence, for the most part, are veteran CFL players, whereas in the secondary we have less experience," Daley said.

"Secondly, there's no position, other than quarterback probably, that takes longer to adapt to in the CFL than a DB, because of the whole different game being played back there.

"... It takes longer on defence."

Daley was happy with the play of recently acquired halfback Anthony Malbrough, but he aggravated a hamstring injury in the first half and is likely out for the season.

"His man-to-man coverage is outstanding, and that's why we traded for him," he said. "So as we get him healthy ... he gives us a guy who is potentially a shutdown cover DB, and those are hard to find, but we have one."

The much-maligned secondary may have been front and centre with the media yesterday, but Daley was quick to point out that other areas of the defence were to blame as well.

"It's not just the secondary," Daley said. "Our coverage at linebacker has to be better ... our pass rush has to be better."

New middle linebacker Joe Tuipala played only 15 defensive plays but performed well on special teams, Daley said, and he could play again Saturday when the Bombers (5-11) visit Vancouver to take on the B.C. Lions (11-4).

"It's a possibility," Daley said. "We want to look at our linebackers. Our linebackers didn't have a particularly good day overall.

"The only way we'll get more familiarity with Joe is by playing him."

Daley said non-import linebacker Neil McKinlay could also get a shot at a starting spot before the season comes to a merciful end on Oct. 30.

"Neil McKinlay is blossoming as a football player in his second year with us," Daley said.

"He's certainly a guy who, whether it's in the next two games or next year in training camp, has to be considered as a starter."


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