Bombers GM Taman sits on the hot seat

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:30 AM ET

WINNIPEG -- It's hard to imagine anybody under more pressure in the CFL this year than Winnipeg Blue Bomber general manager Brendan Taman.

After two brutal years - including a 5-13 debacle last year - this is a make-or-break season for Taman.

In his two and a half years as the chief of football operations for the Bombers, Taman has fired two coaches - Dave Ritchie and Jim Daley - and watched his team put together a terrible 13-25 record.

Some predictions in town suggest his team has to qualify for the East Division Final to keep his job.

But given the pre-season forecasts of doom and gloom surrounding this team, any playoff berth will likely keep him employed.

And while it's much too early to predict if his team will qualify for the post-season dance - for the first time in three years - it must be noted that some of Taman's off-season recruits have turned heads through two weeks.

Defensive tackle Ron Warner entered Week 3 of the season tied for the league lead in sacks, while Barrin Simpson has been brilliant at times in the middle of the linebacking core.

And rookie receiver Quentin McCord is averaging more than 12 yards per reception.

STROKE OF GENIUS? While Taman's gamble on running back Onterrio Smith was a complete waste of time, he might have made one of the smartest moves in the CFL management ranks this winter by claiming former Ottawa Renegade linebacker Kyries Hebert on waivers.

After being ignored in the Ottawa dispersal draft - likely because teams were scared to touch him because of criminal charges in the U.S. - Taman rolled the dice.

Nearly two months later, Hebert's charges have been downgraded to misdemeanours and he's expected to arrive in Canada tonight.

If he passes his interview with Canadian government officials and is allowed to work in the country, the Bombers could improve almost overnight.

Regarded as arguably the best special teams player in the league last year with Ottawa, Hebert also led the Renegades in defensive tackles.

A weak-side linebacker, Hebert and Simpson could form quite a duo in the heart of the Bomber defence.

SHORT HITS: Khari Jones and Milt Stegall are the Winnipeg Blue Bomber representatives in the CFL's greatest quarterback/receiving tandem contest.

After connecting for 62 touchdowns, Jones believes his pairing has a legitimate chance to win. "It's up to the people to decide (in voting), but we have a good argument," he said yesterday ... Winnipeg defensive tackle Doug Brown is becoming a media mogul in this city. Not only does he have his own column in a newspaper, he now co-hosts a live sports radio show on CJOB, the most recognized station in Manitoba ... Let's see if the punting merry-go-round in Winnipeg lasts longer than in Edmonton. While the Esks chose to start the year with former NFLer Rodney Williams, Winnipeg's latest punter - Sam Paulescu - is just 22 years old with no pro experience. He just graduated a few weeks ago from Oregon State.

FINISH LINES: In front of a small media gathering yesterday, Jones offered a pointed opinion. "Milt (Stegall) is still the best receiver in the league," he said.

It says here that I would choose Jason Tucker or Geroy Simon over Stegall.


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