GM wants to challenge Westwood

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:19 AM ET

Brendan Taman still wants to add one or two kickers to his training camp roster to challenge veteran Troy Westwood, and the competition could have CFL experience.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM said yesterday that former Hamilton Tiger-Cats punter Pat Fleming, who was released last week, is on the team's radar.

The Bombers are eyeing four or five punters and placekickers, but Fleming, who had a 43.3-yard average last season, is the only Canadian.

"We're trying to figure out which ones best fit what we're going to try to accomplish here," Taman said.

The Bombers start their rookie camp next Wednesday, and Taman plans to finalize his roster by the end of this week. He can have up to 75 players under contract until full training camp starts next Sunday, when he must get down to 68.

"We'll be around 71 or 72 counters (excluding draft picks) going into rookie camp, so we'll have to cut three or four guys after that," Taman said.

Thanks to the CFL's new salary management system, Taman might have to make some decisions based on money. That situation could change during rookie camp, however, as players could leave or get injured.

"If we're over our numbers either financially or personnel-wise, we might have to make a move or two," Taman said. "That definitely can still happen, there's no doubt about it. It's still happening around the league as I look across the wires every day."

The latest installment of salary-cap trimming occurred yesterday in Calgary, where Stampeders defensive tackle Sheldon Napastuk retired and wide receiver Elijah Thurmon was released.

CRUEL REALITY

"You're going to see more of that in the next week," said Taman, who is not interested in either player. "As teams get closer to camp there's going to be some unfortunate casualties."

The cruel reality is teams have to pay veterans who get hurt in training camp and aren't ready to go for the start of the season. The same rule doesn't apply to rookies.

"Veterans that are on the bubble usually might get the benefit of the doubt," Taman said, "but now in the new SMS era they might not get the benefit of the doubt."

BLUE BITS: Taman said the condition of running back Graeme Bell, who was hospitalized 10 days ago after getting attacked with a baseball bat, is improving, but he likely won't be ready for the start of training camp. The Bombers may sign another running back to bring to camp ... Taman confirmed that import Toney Edison has agreed to a deal with the Bombers and will compete at the strong-side linebacker spot vacated by Ike Charlton ... Offensive lineman Kevin Lefsrud has returned to the Edmonton Eskimos after a one-year retirement.


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