Putting his friend first

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

An injury may have ended his season prematurely but the big guy is more concerned about his little buddy in Saskatoon than testing his knee in Winnipeg's training camp.

Dan Goodspeed was shocked to hear that Blue Bombers running back Graeme Bell had been attacked by a man with a baseball bat in Saskatoon last weekend. Because he knew they were friends, Bombers GM Brendan Taman called Goodspeed at his Tampa, Fla., home to let him know.

"Brendan called because he knew we were close and I really appreciated that," Goodspeed said from Tampa yesterday. "I took him under my wing a little bit and I had been talking to him lots in the off-season and know how hard he had been working. I talked to his folks and it looks like he's getting better and they are optimistic about his future."

Bell was released from hospital on Tuesday and the attacker has turned himself into police.

"Let's hope he gets what he deserves," Goodspeed said.

Goodspeed deserved a better fate last year. The 6-foot-6, 313-pound import tackle suffered a torn ACL in mid-July just when he was starting to enjoy his best CFL season.

"Yeah, I was real frustrated," Goodspeed admitted. "We were ready to go into first place in the East (with a win over Montreal) and we were winning when I got hurt."

But Goodspeed went under the knife and has since been given a clean bill of health.

"The off-season's been a little long," he said. "Actually, it's been too long since I've banged heads with someone. About two months ago, I was ready to go to camp."

And there will be no trepidations about that knee when he does return to the gridiron early next month.

"The surgery went well and the rehab went well," said Goodspeed, who turns 30 on Sunday. "I've been doing a lot of football moves for the past three months. And there has been no pain, no swelling. In fact, it's stronger than my other knee now."

The ex-NFLer is expected to be the only starting import on the re-tooled offensive line this year.

"Our O-line is coming together nicely," Goodspeed said. "I think it will be the strength of our team."

Bombers acquired OL Alexandre Gauthier from Calgary and Matt O'Meara from Saskatchewan, and signed OL Andrew Greene (Saskatchewan) as a free agent -- all Canadians. They will join such non-import returnees as Obby Khan, Matt Sheridan, Val St. Germain and Aaron Fiaconni and import Jermese Jones.

"I'm excited," Goodspeed said. "I'm well-rested coming into this year and hopefully, I can make a difference."

Goodspeed was also encouraged by Winnipeg's turnaround under head coach Doug Berry as the Bombers finished 9-9 and qualified for the playoffs, losing the Eastern semifinal to Toronto.

"We've got a good core of players coming back and we can do even better," Goodspeed said. "I can't wait. Times a-tickin'"

HASHMARKS: The Bombers announced that they will host a number of pre-game parties at the south end of the stadium 90 minutes prior to home games ... Bombers GM Brendan Taman is scouting kickers in the U.S. this weekend.


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