Westwood's locker won't go to just anyone

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:23 AM ET

The posters of bikini-clad models are still there, but the chair sits empty, in the far corner of the Blue Bomber locker room.

The chair occupied by the same man for the last 17 years.

And to hear equipment manager Brad Fotty tell it, there is no rush to move somebody new into Troy Westwood's old spot.

Space may be at a premium, with rookies using somewhat temporary lockers in the middle of the room, but the veteran kicker's presence won't be replaced by just anyone.

"This is going to sound weird," Fotty began. "But you want to make sure you've got the right person in there. For 27 years there's only been two guys in that locker. So there's kind of something special about it."

It was former centre Lyle Bauer, currently the Bomber president and CEO, who occupied the same space for 10 years, and Bauer felt the same way back then -- he wasn't just turning it over to anyone.

"Those are little traditions we have," Bauer said. "When you hand these things off, it goes to the right person. I absolutely remember telling Troy it was his locker, and that he was going to have a long, long career."

Fotty says it's always difficult to put somebody new in a locker that he identifies with a longtime veteran. It was the same way when players like Bob Cameron and Chris Walby retired.

Jamie Stoddard, who sits next to Westwood's spot, was his holder and friend, says he's not sure if he wants a new neighbour, either.

"It'd be kind of nice to leave it like that," Stoddard said, nodding to the posters. "But then it's a constant reminder, too."

SIGH OF RELIEF: Stoddard was reminded of his own career mortality this training camp, when the backup Canadian receiver spot came down to him or O'Neil Wilson.

"I'm not dumb," Stoddard said. "I could see the writing was pretty much on the wall, and had a feeling it was going to be between me and O'Neil. Obviously, I'm glad I was kept around, but at the same time I feel bad for O'Neil."

Stoddard is an eight-year veteran, all with the Bombers, while Wilson has played four in the CFL.

UP OFF THE MATT?: Nobody's ruling Matt Sheridan out of Friday's season-opener against Toronto, yet, but the veteran O-lineman isn't practising due to a groin pull.

Sheridan says with the depth behind him, there's no need to rush into the lineup.

"That certainly makes my conscience feel better, knowing the calibre of who's going to be stepping in," Sheridan said. "In the past it has been dubious."

If he can't go, rookie Brendon LaBatte, the Bombers' first-round draft pick, would start.

BOSTON COMING TO TOWN?: Argos receiver David Boston, originally thought to be out at least 10 weeks with a bad foot, is expected to make the trip to Winnipeg.

"He's on the roster, period," Toronto head coach Rich Stubler told Sun Media. "Whether he plays depends on how he grasps things this week."

A former NFL first-round draft pick, Boston failed his physical and was told he needed surgery, but another specialist revealed he was dealing with an old stress fracture that he could manage.

"I'm prepared to live with the consequences if something negative happens," he said.


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