Big ol' Blue battle

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

First, Ron Warner took a parting shot of sorts at him. Then the Winnipeg Blue Bombers signed another veteran who plays the same position.

But 'Nasty Nate' Davis just gave them both a big ol' friendly shrug with his rather huge shoulders.

Winnipeg dealt Warner, a defensive tackle, to Edmonton in the off-season after signing Davis as a free agent.

"Nate Davis can't come anywhere close to me," Warner told the Sun at the time.

"I think we're two different players who bring two different things to the table," Davis responded without rancour.

The Bombers then signed former Montreal Alouettes defensive tackle Jerome Haywood to challenge Davis.

COMPETE

"You've got to come to training camp to compete and everyone's got to win their position, so I'm looking forward to it," said Davis, who spent six years with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"I don't think we'll be butting heads with anybody. Jerome's a good player, a hard worker, goes hard all the time. It's good."

The 6-foot-5 Indiana product with the Sideshow Bob locks recorded 20 defensive tackles, four quarterback sacks and a tackle for a loss in 16 games for the Roughriders last season.

"Nate Davis looks good, which is a nice bonus for us," said Bombers GM Brendan Taman, who believes Davis dropped about 20 pounds over the winter. "He's in great shape and if he can play like he can, look out."

But looks can be deceiving.

"In all honesty, I'm not down that much over last year," said Davis, 33. "It's just the fact that I was healthy in the off-season, so I was able to prepare a little better to come into camp so I'm in better condition than I was before. My weight's not down as much as it needs to be. That's a bit of a project for myself during camp -- to try to lose a good 10-15 pounds and see how it feels "I probably float between 325 and 330 right now and if I can get to where I'm floating between 315 and 320, I'll be much better off."

That would make it even tougher for Haywood to beat him out for the starting job.

"Competition's great," said the 5-foot-10, 280-pound fireplug. "It's not anything new for me. I'm going to practise the same way. It's always a competition but I don't look at it as a competition. You don't put any stress on yourself like that. You go out and play and have fun and you just work through it.

"I'm actually happy I get to play with Nate and (non-import defensive tackle) Doug Brown. This is a great defence."

Haywood, who turns 29 this week, recorded nine defensive tackles and four sacks in 11 games with Montreal last year.

The ex-Renegade was also welcomed by a number of former Ottawa teammates now with the Bombers.

"If I fit in with the scheme, I'll be fine and if I don't, I don't," Haywood said. "But I just want to find a home and stick with a place for the rest of my career no matter how long that might be."

Davis, meanwhile, has switched to No. 13 from 98 because it is a number he has always wanted.

"It looks a little out of place but it's going to be a nice jersey to have framed," he said. "I'm excited. We've got a really good team. I'm ready to win some games, to win a championship and all that stuff."

Davis will have to practise against some of the same offensive linemen he faced during those heated rivalries as a Rider.

"Oh yeah, you might have to tone it down a little bit," he said with a smile. "I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun."


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