Lineman taken to task

Ron Ockimey of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers runs a drill during practice at CanadInns Stadium Monday....

Ron Ockimey of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers runs a drill during practice at CanadInns Stadium Monday. The Bombers play host to the Toronto Argonauts on Friday. (Winnipeg Sun/C. Procaylo)

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

Mike Abou-Mechrek was in the principal's office bright and early yesterday morning.

The principal on Maroons Road is Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Doug Berry, while Abou-Mechrek is the student who acted up on Friday night in Montreal.

Abou-Mechrek, the Bombers' right tackle, had six penalties, including four illegal procedure calls and a holding infraction that wiped out a Milt Stegall touchdown, in Winnipeg's 27-17 season-opening loss to the Alouettes.

Berry was asked who initiated yesterday's meeting.

"Oh, he was asked to be there," the coach said in best principal voice.

The good news for Abou-Mechrek is he was back at his usual spot with the first-team offence yesterday at practice, and Berry said the offensive line will remain the same for Friday's home opener against the Toronto Argonauts.

That doesn't mean, however, that Abou-Mechrek is feeling chipper.

"An offensive lineman can't win or lose a game for you, but, man, I did my best to lose that one for the guys," he said.

Abou-Mechrek wouldn't apologize for the holding and face mask penalties he took, saying that's always been a part of his M.O., but the illegal procedure calls are the ones that are eating him.

"You add up the last two years, and I don't think I went offsides four times," he said. "Obviously if I knew why I was going offside I wouldn't have done it four times, but that's something that I gotta work on this week in practice. It shouldn't be a problem for the rest of my life."

Berry is confident the eight-year veteran will turn it around.

"Mike's capable of playing the position, and he's gotta handle adversity," he said. "He was frustrated, and that helped him lose his concentration on the game.

"But he's a veteran. He should know better, and he's been alerted to what he needs to do, and I know Mike will do it."

To be fair, it was Abou-Mechrek's first start at right tackle in two years, but he has played the position before and he figures it can only get better from here.

"I'm not totally comfortable, but I'm not totally uncomfortable," he said. "I'm not a fish out of water; I'm just maybe a fish and I need a little bit less water.

"I'm like a fish in the ocean that would like to be in the Mr. Turtle pool."

The Bombers took 12 more penalties on Friday night, including three for roughing the passer. Berry said none of the hits on Anthony Calvillo were cheap shots.

"I'll tell you what I'm going to do to correct that: absolutely nothing," said Berry.

"I told these guys I want them playing on the edge. And we have to define what is the edge. The edge is not being cheap. The edge is making the play when it needs to be (made).

"And when I have to run the play back 10 times to see whether or not we took the extra step, to me that's playing on the edge, and that makes for good defence. And I can't take that edge away from our guys."


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