Carter joins the mix

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

The veteran safety has no qualms about joining what was the sorriest secondary in the CFL last season.

Winnipeg has signed Donnavan Carter, who was passed over in last week's dispersal draft of Ottawa Renegades, Blue Bombers GM Brendan Taman announced during a state-of-the-franchise teleconference call yesterday.

"It's a new year," Carter said of joining the porous pass defenders from his Mississauga, Ont., home. "And they've picked up some good defenders like (linebackers) Barrin Simpson and (Kyries) Hebert."

"I'm just anxious to move on and get started on a new season."

The 6-foot-1, 213-pound Canadian, who was likely passed over due to a lucrative contract, worked with Winnipeg's defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall after being dealt to Ottawa from Hamilton late last season.

"He kind of reminds of a Lester Smith, whom we used to have in Montreal," said Bomber head coach Doug Berry. "He's kind of a downhill player who fits into the run game very aggressively. In terms of being a free safety, he's not a primary cover guy but he's capable of being a cover guy. He also has to be effective in the blitzing game."

Carter, 31, can also play linebacker, which could come in handy with import linebacker Sean Woodson officially retiring yesterday and Hebert still trying to wrangle out of his CFL contract.

"We've got a lot of capable guys," Berry suggested. "(Ron) Ockimey is a guy I've liked back there and Ortega is capable of competing there. We've got Robert Grant, whom we just picked up from Ottawa and has played in CFL. It's not like I'm daydreaming and hoping that someone (else) can play there."

Woodson, who led the Bombers in defensive tackles last season, could not be reached for comment.

Should Hebert report to camp, Winnipeg could have as many as 10 new starters this season, Berry said. And all that impressive new blood has rekindled optimism in a year when Winnipeg is hosting the Grey Cup. Season tickets are 2,000 ahead of where they were at this point last year and almost 60% of the Cup tickets have been snapped up.

Berry also believes that quarterback Kevin Glenn can be good enough to get the Bombers there -- with help from new quarterbacks coach Mike Working.

"It was very important for me to get a guy to coach a guy like Kevin Glenn, who is not a marquee quarterback yet but has the potential," Berry said. "I took this job thinking Kevin Glenn was going to be good enough to enable us to be a winner here."


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