Pivotal contest

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

So now we've had a chance to see the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in regular-season action and despite the loss to the Montreal Alouettes last Friday, the results were somewhat encouraging.

For three quarters, the Bombers looked like a much improved football team.

They moved the ball with authority, used a wide variety of offensive plays and had an outstanding start defensively, holding the powerful Alouettes to just seven points through three quarters.

Unfortunately, some signs of the old Bombers also crept to the surface, as they collapsed in the fourth quarter and left Montreal without a victory.

For three quarters the Bombers looked like a team that will prove the oddsmakers wrong in 2006, but in that last quarter they looked every bit a 25-1 long shot to win the Grey Cup.

Second-year starting quarterback Kevin Glenn continued his trend of strong starts and lousy finishes, tossing two interceptions on crucial drives in the fourth quarter and costing the Bombers any chance of victory.

Placekicker Troy Westwood missed a 49-yard field goal that could have made the score 20-7 and the Alouettes ran it back for great field position.

Three unnecessary roughness penalties later, the ball was in the Winnipeg end zone and the Alouettes could smell a win.

Those crucial mistakes cost the Bombers glory in a game they could have, and perhaps should have won.

That brings us back to the encouraging part.

The Bombers looked very much like a team that can compete with the powerhouse Alouettes.

They looked like a team that has a few wins in it. But they are going to have to figure out a way to steal close games and that means no late interceptions, missed field goals or dumb penalties.

The next opportunity to try proving the pundits wrong comes Friday at Canad Inns Stadium when the Bombers host Ricky Williams and the Toronto Argonauts.

Most of the attention will, of course, be on NFL bad boy Williams, who is essentially on loan to the Argos from the Miami Dolphins while he sits out a one-year suspension for a fourth positive drug test.

Rightly so, of course. How often do NFL stars in their prime make appearances at Canad Inns Stadium?

Whatever his shortcomings, Williams is an exceptional talent who won the Heisman Trophy in college and was once traded for a team's entire slate of draft picks. He's also an enigma, who chose to walk away from the Dolphins for a season so he could pursue the delights of marijuana and world enlightenment.

A lot of people want to know what makes this guy tick, but considering how the Argos are shielding him from the media, we may not find those answers.

We will, however, get to see how a bona fide NFL star performs in the CFL, and you can bet many of the Bombers are licking their chops over the chance to compete against Williams.

From Charles Roberts, who would love to beat Williams for the CFL rushing title, to the linebackers, who want to put a helmet into his mid-section, this is a golden opportunity for the players as well as the fans.

One player who won't be too concerned about Williams, is Glenn, who needs to be more concerned about his own job security.

The Bombers simply can't have a quarterback making repeated mistakes at crucial times. If Glenn continues to do so, he'll have to be replaced, and one gets the feeling it won't take new coach Doug Berry long to pull that trigger.

At the moment, Berry's not exactly flush with options, as neither Mike Quinn nor Brad Banks showed much during the pre-season.

Berry won't wait forever though, and you can be sure the Bombers will be watching the Casey Printers situation in Kansas City closely. If the former B.C. Lions quarterback and CFL most outstanding player doesn't make the cut, he's surely going to become available later this summer.

Odds are, if he does become available, the Bombers will be first in line.


Videos

Photos