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Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Doug Berry opens the season against his former team, the Montreal...

Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Doug Berry opens the season against his former team, the Montreal Alouettes. (Winnipeg Sun File/C. Procaylo)

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:45 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are about to embark on a new season under a new head coach in a new division this week, but they are still nervous about several areas of the reworked club.

In fact, the Bombers will not finalize the roster that will take on the Alouettes in Montreal on Friday until Wednesday.

"For the most part, we think we're there," Bombers GM Brendan Taman said yesterday. "But there are still some uncertainties in some positions. The safety spot is an issue and so is the punting game."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement as the Bombers prepare to take on Montreal, Toronto and Hamilton in their new surroundings in the East.

OUTBID

Taman got outbid for the services of safety Richard Karikari by Montreal and lost Mike Crumb to retirement on the eve of training camp. New head coach Doug Berry is still experimenting with safeties, although converted import linebacker Ron Ockimey has the edge over rookie Ian Logan. Yet, Taman did not rule out attempting to acquire a proven CFL safety.

"But we're not desperate," he said.

After losing Jon Ryan, the CFL's best punter last season, to the NFL, the Bombers tried to bring in Duncan O'Mahony to challenge placekicker Troy Westwood for the punting chores. They are still waiting to hear from O'Mahony. Taman then brought in an American punter, Brian Claybourn, to battle Westwood -- with unsatisfactory results.

"Neither one looks like an all-star," Taman said.

Although the outside linebacker positions will also seem worrisome as long as Kyries Hebert remains suspended, Taman seemed unconcerned. In fact, he sung sweet praises of Ike Charlton, and Donnavan Carter is a proven veteran.

But, by far, the most dramatic upgrade has been in the secondary. You know, the one that surrendered the most yards passing in CFL history last season. Proven CFL veterans Anthony Malbrough and Kelly Malveaux are expected to start at the halfback spots that had been so troublesome last season, and cornerback Omar Evans looks to be in all-star form. Stanford Samuels has also taken an edge over veteran cornerback William Fields, who remains on the roster.

"Last year, they were tagged with being so bad that they couldn't function but I never thought that we were really that bad," Taman said. "There were other reasons for all that yardage. But yeah, I believe we've improved drastically there."

The defensive line might miss the leadership of retired defensive tackle Joe Fleming but Ron Warner has returned from the NFL and that front four could become the best in the CFL.

Offensively, the O-line is supposed to be better, yet Berry bemoaned its poor pass-blocking in Thursday's pre-season match in Montreal. And without proper pass protection in the new-look Winnipeg offence, it won't matter much who is at the controls. Which, of course, brings us to Kevin Glenn. In the CFL, battles are won and lost based on the performance of the team's offensive leader. Although Glenn had good stats last year, the Bombers were only 5-13. And he seems to have hung on to his starting job by process of elimination rather than stimulation.

"Kevin Glenn's fine," Taman assured. "I thought he actually played quite well the other night in Montreal."

Although Taman will be scouring the lists of other teams' castoffs, he is not seeking another quarterback.

"Right now, we're pretty good with what we have," Taman said, looking at the big picture.

But open the campaign 0-4 and that will change in great haste.


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