Berry remains calm

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers just finished the CFL pre-season by blowing a pair of games to what was the worst team in the circuit last year.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats defeated Winnipeg 35-23 and 24-20. And what may be worse is that veteran slotback Milt Stegall looked like the only offensive player ready to start the regular season.

And yet, even as he was considering cuts to pare the roster down to 53 (42 starters, four reserve and seven on the practice roster) by last night, Bomber head coach Doug Berry still expressed faith in his current troops.

"I still believe offensively -- judging what we have with our starting quarterback (Kevin Glenn) and what I know about him -- we're ahead of where we were a year ago," Berry said yesterday. "I don't think our tailback has changed much in terms of what Charles (Roberts) can do for this offence. We've got a couple of decent receivers that can help us get a little bit better there.

"The question still comes with our offensive line because we haven't seen these guys yet participate together (due to injuries) ... Our defensive front can be pretty significant no matter who we decide is going to play where. And I still believe we have pretty good guys in the secondary. As soon as we get them ironed out as to where they're going to line up, in a matter of a game or two, we should be playing real good."

But Berry was downright incensed over the performance of the special teams on Friday.

"That was really the worst phase of the game," he said. "Certainly, since I've been here, it's the worst we've performed special teams-wise. We had a kickoff go out of bounds; we had a punt go out of bounds (now a penalty in certain areas). We had punt returners running into each other. We dropped a punt. We had a long snap go over the punter's head. We missed a 30-yard field goal. We took an unsportsmanlike conduct on punt coverage team. We were short a player on a field goal attempt. It was unbelievable.

"We can't win football games making that many errors alone in the special teams part."

And this came after the Bombers had devoted one whole practice working on nothing but special teams.

"The other thing that we were way out of line with was our penalty situation," Berry said. "We had 15 penalties for 153 yards. They (Ticats) had six penalties for 19 yards and that in itself is enough to make the difference in a close game."

But Berry is not panicking over an 0-2 record, even coming against a team in the first phases of rebuilding.

"You look at Vancouver, who won the (2006) Grey Cup," said Berry, who led the Bombers to a 9-9 record and third-place finish in the East last year. "They went 0-2 in the pre-season and I think they're probably still feeling pretty good about themselves.

"We all know we've got things to do. We've got areas that we need to fix up before we're ready to compete at the highest level. But I think that everybody sees that we have the potential to do it. Some of the guys who are here that have done it in the past are going to give us the guidance that we're going to need to show the newcomers that this is how it's got to be done for 2007."


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