Welcome to Winnipeg's Death Valley for Hogs.
When Mike Abou-Mechrek was felled due to an ankle sprain last Sunday, he became the third starting offensive lineman the Blue Bombers have lost during a game this CFL season. This injury bug has now plagued the Bombers since the turn of the century.
"It's my first year here and it's bizarre," Bomber centre Obby Khan said yesterday. "It's like we're in a whole other dimension and it's starting offensive linemen who are going down."
The Bombers lost both Dan Goodspeed (knee, gone for the season) and Matt Sheridan (groin, extended period) earlier this year. And when import tackle Garrick Jones lines up for the Bombers when they play the Stampeders in Calgary this Friday, he will be the 10th different O-lineman to start for Winnipeg this season.
"Hey, it's a good thing (the Bombers) got us from Ottawa, right?" said Khan. "What would have happened if we weren't here and there were all those injuries?"
Both Khan and O-lineman Val St. Germain were picked up in the Ottawa dispersal draft.
The others who have started on the line this season include: Eric Wilson, Jermese Jones, Aaron Fiacconi and Belton Johnson.
"I've never seen anything like it but at least we're building depth," said Winnipeg head coach Doug Berry.
TOO SHORT: Berry, however, is worried about having such a short week to prepare for Calgary, thanks to a strange CFL schedule that allows the Bombers only two days to practise.
"There's probably never enough time going against Calgary because they are very complex both defensively and offensively," he said. "And to have not played them at all and this being the first time after two days of practice, I know we're not going to be as detailed as we'd like to be in the game plan ...
"It's just the way the schedule's drawn up. We're trying to keep it simple but it has to be detailed enough that we can stop them and move the ball."
CRAMMING: Kyries Hebert, meanwhile, had only four days of practice last week to learn a new position -- weak-side linebacker.
"I had never been on the weak side in my life," he said. "But it's football and you still have to go out there and make plays. It was something that I was kind of unfamiliar with and it's only going to come with time. That was the first game and I think I did the best I could possibly do and, as time goes on, I'm only going to get better."
Hebert will continue at linebacker and also play some safety in Calgary.
HASHMARKS: CB Stanford Samuels tested his ankle at yesterday's practice but was forced to leave. Robert Bean replaced him ... The Bombers have contacted WR Marc Boerigter, a recent NFL cut with CFL experience, GM Brendan Taman confirmed. So has B.C.