Big boys hit field as main training camp kicks off

KIRK PENTON

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

The young pups had their turn to learn, and now it's time for the big boys to show up and strut their stuff.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers rookie camp wrapped up yesterday, and today the veterans will report for physicals. The rookies and veterans will then come together tomorrow to kick off Winnipeg's 2007 training camp at Canad Inns Stadium.

Head coach Doug Berry is happy to have the rookie camp over, and he's even happier now that he knows the Bombers signed some solid talent in the off-season in an effort to improve upon their 2006 record of 9-9.

"We've got a lot of guys in here that can compete," Berry said. "I like the Canadian talent that I'm hoping can have some impact on special teams at the very minimum.

RATIO HELP

"And of course maybe we can get a couple more starters out of this whole thing to help our ratio.

"We've got a good base to add going into training camp."

The Bombers might have to release four players tonight to get down to the training camp maximum of 68. That could change today, however, if some veterans fail their physical or don't report.

"We'll be thinking about possibilities," Berry said, "but until we have to address them we'll just kind of let it go and hope that we don't have to do very much."

PIVOT PATROL: Berry still wasn't sure if all five quarterbacks will advance to main camp. If they do, he said, "there won't be five for long."

One of the two newcomers, Justin Holland, looked good in rookie camp and should get more time to prove his worth.

"He's come along," Berry said. "On Day 1 I wasn't too sure, to be honest, but the last couple days he's picked it up significantly."

HOMETOWN BOY? Because there were only five of them, the receivers got lots of work during rookie camp.

And that taught Jeff Keegan a valuable lesson.

"After playing with five receivers in a five-receiver set for a couple days with two-a-days, you realize that you gotta be in shape and you gotta have your head on straight," the former Guelph Gryphons star said.

Keegan apparently already knew that, however, because he made dozens of nice grabs over the last three days and should at least get a look when main camp starts tomorrow.

"I had a few dropped balls, but that's what rookie camp's for, is to get them out of the system early," Keegan said.

It wouldn't be a stretch to say the 6-foot-3, 210-pound 23-year-old belongs in the category of "local" players, considering he grew up in Portage la Prairie before moving to London, Ont., when he was in Grade 2.

Keegan, who led the CIS in receiving in 2005, was even born at Winnipeg's St. Boniface Hospital.

And if Portage wanted to call him their own?

"I'd be all right with that," he said.

LATE HITS: B.C. Lions linebacker Carl Kidd officially announced his retirement yesterday ... The Toronto Argonauts have signed former NFL safety Tony Dorsett Jr., the son of legendary running back Tony Dorsett.


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