Tackle happy to be Blue

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

Jerome Haywood has always wanted to play beside two specific CFL defensive tackles.

He accomplished half of his goal last year by lining up beside Ed Philion with the Montreal Alouettes.

He now has a shot at completing his mission this year after officially signing a year-and-an-option contract with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers yesterday.

"It's going to be fun playing with Doug Brown," Haywood said yesterday from San Diego. "I'm kind of excited about that. He's one of two players I wanted to play with. Ed was one, and Doug's the other.

"I want to see how he does his job. He's pretty effective."

If they do end up together, it will be quite the sight. They both weigh approximately 280 pounds, but Brown is 6-foot-7 and Haywood is 5-foot-9.

The training camp battle for the tackle spot next to Brown promises be a tight one. Even though the club traded Ron Warner to Edmonton on Wednesday, it still has Nate Davis and Eric Wilson at the position.

Haywood hasn't been paying attention to the Bombers' roster moves and plans to come into camp ready "to earn myself a job" no matter who he's up against.

The 28-year-old Los Angeles native broke into the CFL with the expansion Ottawa Renegades in 2002 and recorded 17 sacks and 146 tackles over four seasons.

Since Haywood played for current Bombers defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall and defensive line coach Richard Harris in Ottawa, he tried to join Winnipeg last season. That attempt was thwarted by a "communication problem," he said, so he ended up signing in Montreal, where things didn't go as planned.

He got hurt in training camp, lost the starting tackle spot to Dario Romero and managed only four sacks and 10 tackles in spot duty.

Thanks to that experience, Haywood plans to show up at Bomber camp ready to go.

"There's nothing guaranteed in this game. I won't take anything for granted," he said. "I went to Montreal obviously thinking I was going to be a starter, and I wasn't a starter for the first time in my career. It was a humbling experience."

The Alouettes wanted Haywood to play the same role again this season, so they talked to him about renegotiating his contract. When Haywood declined, Alouettes GM Jim Popp released him in February to let him find a new football home.

Haywood couldn't be more excited about being reunited with Marshall and Harris.

"I played with those guys in Ottawa, so that's the main reason why I wanted to go there," he said. "I already know what to expect.

"... I like Winnipeg. I like the uniform, I like a lot of the players. I know a few of the players there. I thought it would be a good place to play."


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