Backfield braces for Ray barrage

JIM BENDER

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

The CFL's top gunslinger of last year is coming to town Friday.

And the Blue Bombers are desperately hoping to be able to dress enough healthy pass defenders to challenge Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray at the Canad Inns corral.

Neither cornerbacks Robert Bean (knee) nor Anthony Malbrough (hamstring) will dress. Defensive back Greg Moss is doubtful and Davin Bush will play corner with an ankle heavily taped. DB Gabriel Fulbright will return to action from injury while it looks like rookie DB Chijioke Onyenegecha will get his first taste of CFL action Friday.

"It's exciting but at the same time, it's nerve-wracking because it's my first time up playing, especially playing against a tough team like Edmonton," the 6-foot-1, 209-pound Oklahoma product said yesterday. "They give us a lot of different things so, I'm trying to get better, I'm trying to learn. It's playing catch-up because it's my first time for everything. I've got to get my mental game back into it and focus.

"We know that they have one of the most high-powered offences in the league so, as a rookie, it's going to be tough. This is a big, big, big opportunity for me and I have to take advantage of it."

LOOK OUT: Former Montreal Alouette Jerome Haywood replaced Nate Davis at defensive tackle last week and earned another shot to play again this week.

FOUR TACKLES, SACK

The 5-foot-9, 285-pound San Diego State product recorded four defensive tackles and a quarterback sack during Winnipeg's victory over his ex-teammates.

"That felt pretty good," Haywood said. "I hadn't played a full game of football -- you know, every snap -- in a year and some because my last club, we rotated in and out and I was up and down on the roster. So, it felt pretty good to get a full game in and get that tired because that's the way football is supposed to be."

Now, with all the injuries to the secondary, the front seven will attempt to get the same kind of pressure on Ray that it did when the Montreal QBs were sacked seven times.

"We can do that to anybody," Haywood said. "I mean, we've got seven studs on the front line so, we're going to go ahead and give it to everybody the same way to the best of our ability."

KICKER BATTLE: Veteran placekicker Troy Westwood made seven of nine field goal attempts at yesterday's practice, missing two from the 47, although there was a bad snap on the second miss. Rob Pikula was 5-of-9, missing two from the 47 and two from the 37.

"Troy was a little bit better, a little more consistent," said Bomber head coach Doug Berry.

HASHMARKS: Although WR Derick Armstrong (knee) did not practise yesterday, he may be back today. Both Kerry Johnson and Albert Johnson III took turns with the starting offence in his place ... Although SB Arjei Franklin (ankle) took some turns at practice, he is still at least a week away ... Word out of Edmonton is that DB Shannon Garrett has been converted to strong-side LB and Raleigh Roundtree, an import, will replace non-import OL Kevin Lefsrud (concussion).


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