New safety thinks positive

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

If only every receiver were like the one Ron Ockimey faced yesterday in practice.

Ockimey, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers safety who has been on the job now for a whopping 11 days now, lined up against Dan Goodspeed, who just happens to be a 6-foot-6, 315-pound offensive lineman.

Goodspeed, supplying a quick chuckle for his teammates, did one play at receiver for the scout team.

"He has the height advantage, I'll tell you that much," joked the 6-foot-2 Ockimey after practice. "I was just hoping they didn't throw the jump ball."

The ball never came to Goodspeed, and Ockimey stuck to his target like glue.

"His speed is mediocre," laughed Ockimey. "I'd say he's about a five-second-flat guy (in the 40-yard dash)."

Ockimey won't have the luxury of covering players who are timed with a sun dial when the Bombers open their 76th CFL season tomorrow night in Montreal against the Alouettes.

The fact that Ockimey has never played a CFL game at safety and has been at the position for fewer than two weeks might be a little disconcerting to Bomber fans, who are still trying to erase last year's showing by the defence from their scarred brains.

Some might even view Ockimey's move from linebacker midway through training camp as an act of desperation that is similar to the mad scrambling that went on late last season under coach Jim Daley.

All about attitude

Ockimey and new head coach Doug Berry, however, are all about attitude this season. They are hoping the power of positive thinking -- not to mention Ockimey's tremendous wheels -- will help keep the Alouettes' potent offence at bay.

"I don't anticipate we're going to have any major flaws," said Berry. "Ron's a very disciplined player, and so I expect him to do what his job is supposed to be.

"If we felt like it was a hazard putting him back there, we wouldn't be doing it."

Ockimey, 28, has played safety before, but it was only in practice. He tried out at free safety with the San Francisco 49ers in 2001 and played some defensive back in practice while he was in the Arena League.

The drool that you will see coming from Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo's mouth tomorrow night is because of that last paragraph.

"I feel real confident going into the game," said Ockimey. "I've had a couple of mistake-free practices. I feel confident.

"The reason why they put me back there is because I have speed, so if I'm a step or two behind I feel like I can make up for it with my speed.

"... I wouldn't want to come in facing anybody else. This definitely is a test, but the coaches have confidence in me and I'm always confident in my abilities."


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