Pleasant problem

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

Kyries Hebert is scheduled to arrive in Winnipeg on Sunday.

That's when things are sure to get even more interesting than they have been for the past three months.

The holdout linebacker, who stopped arbitration proceedings and agreed to a new three-year contract with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Tuesday, is expected to be welcomed warmly by his new teammates.

"Any guy who can play like he plays on the field and bring what he can bring to the team, you can't help but have open arms for him," said defensive back Anthony Malbrough, who is Hebert's off-season neighbour in Houston.

The biggest problem now for the Bombers is getting him on the roster without destroying the chemistry that has been built among a defensive unit that leads the CFL in 13 statistical categories through two games.

"It's a problem, and it's pleasant -- right now," said head coach Doug Berry. "It might not be pleasant for somebody involved."

Hebert is a good football player. Last season in Ottawa he had 66 tackles, 29 special teams tackles, three forced fumbles, a blocked punt, a sack, a tackle for a loss, two pass knockdowns, two fumble recoveries, three interceptions and three touchdowns.

And after all the hassle the Bombers went through to get him to Winnipeg, not to mention the impressive resume, Hebert won't be sitting on the bench or watching from the sideline after he arrives.

So the question becomes: Who does he replace? The likely option is weak-side linebacker Donnavan Carter, who, coincidentally, used to be Hebert's teammate in Ottawa. The only catch is Carter is a non-import, which means the Bombers would have to start another non-import somewhere else in the lineup.

"We like what we have here, and we're going to go week to week trying to get better," said Carter. "If he can bring something to the picture, all the power to him."

If Hebert does play his natural position of weak-side linebacker, it's possible that the Bombers will remove import Ron Ockimey from the safety position and replace him with a Canadian -- Carter, Shawn Gallant or Ian Logan.

That delicate decision is at least a week away, according to Berry, because Hebert has to get back in football mode and learn the playbook. Hebert's agent, J.R. Rickert, said his client will be ready to rock next Saturday in Toronto against the Argonauts.

"The club is getting a great football player," said Rickert.

Berry agrees, although he seems reluctant to bring in a top-notch player to push for a job on a defence that is purring.

"You can't have guys always looking over their shoulder," said Berry. "They have to believe that they're the best at what they do and that you're not trying to replace them every second. It's going to happen occasionally; everybody understands that. But to have it on a steady basis is not a good idea. And early in the season, it's difficult for guys to accept, especially when they're playing very well themselves. It'll be interesting."

Bombers GM Brendan Taman said the whole landscape could be different after Saturday, when the Bombers (1-1) host the Edmonton Eskimos (1-1) at Canad Inns Stadium. Players could get hurt, or the defence could implode.

"We gotta get him in here and see what he's all about first," said Taman. "And until we play Edmonton, we really don't know."

Regardless, it looks like Hebert's transition into the lineup is going to go about as smoothly as his waiver claim did.

"With the defence playing so well right now, it's a tough fit for him," said defensive tackle Doug Brown. "But, then again, his resume speaks for itself.

"So, I'm glad it's not my problem, let's put it that way."


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