Bombers lick wounds

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

Doug Berry has seen a lot in 30 years of coaching football, but there's something weirder, wilder and wackier about Winnipeg.

"I've encountered some strange things here in just the short time I've been in Winnipeg, losing three offensive linemen in one game (last July) and two long snappers in one game," the Blue Bombers coach said yesterday. "For me, that's unheard of stuff."

The Blue and Gold fell 19-15 to the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday night, but they also lost their first- and second-string long snappers to injuries that will keep them out indefinitely.

WORKING THE PHONES

As a result, Bomber GM Brendan Taman spent yesterday working the phones. One of his targets was Jordan Matechuk, whom the Bombers released at the end of training camp four weeks ago.

Matechuk, a former Winnipeg Rifle with an impressive snap time, is currently trying out for the Victoria Rebels junior team. Taman hopes to have Matechuk, or anyone else who can snap, on the practice field today.

Friday the 13th must affect long snappers the most, because it was a night to forget for the boys who spend their careers looking through their legs, upside down.

Chris Cvetkovic, the Bombers' long snapper since 2004, dislocated his elbow in the first quarter, and "that'll be a long-term thing," Berry said.

Cvetkovic's backup, rookie Brian Guebert, then went down with a hamstring injury in the third quarter. Backup linebacker and defensive end Adrian Baird, the third-string long snapper, finished the game.

"Sometimes you don't even have three on the roster for a game," Berry said. "We're just lucky to have three guys that could snap.

"I can remember being in games where we've only had one and just prayed that we didn't have to use our backup short snapper in a situation."

Berry was so worried about the situation Friday night that he actually went over to placekicker Troy Westwood to inform him that he might have to punt from a field-goal formation.

"I said, 'That won't be good for your field-goal average, but I won't hold it against you,' " Berry said with a chuckle.

Baird was solid on his only snap of the game in the fourth quarter, and he would have no problem taking over until Cvetkovic is healthy. Backup linebacker Brad Newman can also do the job if needed.

"I can snap," Baird said. "I can step in there and do the job just the same as somebody else. It's a freak accident that two guys went down.

"I look forward to that challenge. I do. I'm looking forward to the next time."

The long snapping nightmare was just part of the special teams meltdown the Bombers suffered against the Eskimos.

Winnipeg had two punts partially blocked, one of Guebert's snaps sailed over punter Rob Pikula's head, and Edmonton recovered both a kickoff and an onside punt.

"I'm not going to take any of the responsibility (of the loss) off the special teams," Berry said. "We have a responsibility to play better than that.

"That's not to say that the offence couldn't have been better and the defence couldn't have been better."

The Bombers, who are second in the East Division with a 1-1-1 record, travel to Montreal this week and will meet the Alouettes on Thursday at Molson Stadium.\


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