Newest Blue set to kick off camp

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

Like a proud papa, Brendan Taman is about to get a first look at his offspring.

After a long winter that followed an even longer 2005 campaign, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers finally get to wipe their slate clean today with the start of their rookie camp.

New head coach Doug Berry and his staff will guide approximately 25 rookies and first-year CFLers, including former Minnesota Vikings running back Onterrio Smith, through the three-day session, which leads into the first day of training camp on Saturday.

The rookies and first-year CFLers will do part of their physicals and go through an orientation session today. They hit the field tomorrow.

This marks the first year the CFL has allowed teams to officially conduct rookie camps, even though some squads have held informal get-togethers in the past.

"Basically we're giving the guys a head start on picking up our offence and, more or less, picking up our game," said Taman, the GM in charge of retooling a Bomber squad this past winter that was 5-13 last season. "Some of these guys are coming out of college, and some of them have never seen anything about our game.

"This is totally new to them, so it's just to give them a head start to get acclimated to Winnipeg and the league."

Smith, the suspended NFLer signed by the Bombers last Friday, was scheduled to arrive in Winnipeg last night at 11 o'clock.

Other notable participants this week will be quarterbacks Mike Quinn and Brad Banks, receivers Adrian Madise and Quentin McCord, and linebackers Stevie Baggs and Donny Green.

Three members of last year's Bomber squad -- defensive back Ike Charlton and offensive linemen Tyler Tapp and Ryan Bachman -- also get to take part because they have fewer than seven CFL games under their belts.

Quarterbacks are also allowed to participate, which is why Banks, picked up in the Ottawa Renegades dispersal draft, will be hitting the field.

Before this season, most first-year CFLers were required to come to a new country, learn the league's nuances and then make the team -- all in a span of 10 days.

Talk about Mission: Impossible.

This way, they have a better chance at getting a fair shake.

"It's a good chance for us to see them and a good chance for them to see us," said Taman.

Taman still gets stressed out trying to get everyone to Winnipeg.

"Every year it's the same thing," Taman said late yesterday afternoon. "It doesn't change -- too much luggage, improper ID, missed connection, cancelled flight, late to the airport.

"You name it, we hear it."

LATE HITS: Taman was still trying last night to officially sign Winnipeg's four draft picks -- WR Arjei Franklin, OL Dominic Picard, RB David Stevens and DE Dexter Ross. He expects the foursome to be signed by this morning ... Even though he has only two more training camp roster spots to fill, Taman hopes to add a running back, two receivers and a defensive back today. He has the room because LB Kyries Hebert and QB Tee Martin aren't showing up for the start of camp and both will be suspended.

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CAMPING OUT

The tentative list of 25 players expected to participate in the Bomber rookie camp, which begins today with physicals and orientation:

- Quarterbacks -- Mike Quinn, Brad Banks.

- Running backs/fullbacks -- Onterrio Smith, Henri Childs, David Stevens, Lenard Semajuste.

- Receivers -- Blair Atkinson, Jeff Schieman, Adrian Madise, Quentin McCord, Casey Allen, Arjei Franklin.

- Offensive linemen -- Tyler Tapp, Adam Krajewski, Ryan Bisson, Ryan Bachman, Dominic Picard.

- Defensive linemen -- Adrian Baird, Dexter Ross.

- Linebackers -- Donny Green, Stevie Baggs.

- Defensive backs -- Ike Charlton, Robert Bean, Ian Logan, Lawrence Richardson.


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