Bombers brace for the axe

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:32 PM ET

Brace yourself, D-day is here.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Doug Berry will be down to numbers (42 active players, a four-man taxi squad and seven-man practice roster) this afternoon in preparation for Friday's CFL season opener against the Montreal Alouettes.

"Some (decisions) will be easier and some will be harder," Berry said yesterday, taking a break from scrutinizing video of Thursday's 30-15 loss to the Alouettes, the Bombers' second straight defeat in exhibition action.

There are sure to be some surprises when it comes to the final roster.

NOT OPTIMISTIC

Berry didn't sound optimistic when asked about the play of running back Ontterio Smith, who missed one game with an injury, then fumbled on his first carry Thursday and picked up seven yards on two rushes.

"The only thing I can say is that I wish we could have got him the ball a little bit more for a better evaluation," said Berry. "Based on what we've seen, it wasn't an overwhelming showing on his behalf. I don't know how we're going to buy time."

The one thing possibly working in Smith's favour -- aside from his untapped potential -- is that running back Henri Childs was injured (knee cartilage) on Thursday and might be on the shelf.

Veteran kicker Troy Westwood cemented his spot on the roster, but there's no guarantee he'll be pulling double duty.

Although his punting average was better than rookie Brian Claybourn's, Westwood had a few problems that didn't show up on the scoresheet.

"Troy got the benefit of some rolls and he had two punts that were kicked in the wrong direction," Berry said. "He was 3-for-5 in his punts. His field goals, on the other hand, were really good kicks."

The quarterback situation didn't exactly clear itself up either, as both Mike Quinn and Russ Michna had poor numbers and were banged up during the game.

Quinn hurt his throwing arm, Michna his thumb on his first play from scrimmage.

"That may factor into what the ultimate decision will be," Berry said, conceding the possibility of keeping four pivots around.

Michna isn't sure what to expect when he shows up for work today.

"It's going to be interesting, that's for sure," said Michna. "You never know what's going to happen in this crazy game that we play. Hopefully, I'll be here and get an opportunity to prove myself again."

Berry gave starter Kevin Glenn a reasonable endorsement and Brad Banks may have found himself a second life, despite not dressing Thursday.

"Banks is capable of potentially being a No. 1 or No. 2 in this league," said Berry.

Starting spots at safety and outside linebacker weren't exactly nailed down, but one player who thinks he's got the team made is Ron Warner, the former NFLer who was converted to defensive tackle from defensive end during training camp.

"I think I had a pretty good pre-season, for playing a position I've never played before," said Warner. "(Thursday's) football game set the record straight -- everybody knows that, 'hey, I can play the position.'"


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