LaBatte Blue debut

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:16 AM ET

Winnipeg's top draft pick came to camp not knowing whether he would be staying or going back to school.

Tomorrow night, guard Brendon LaBatte will make his CFL regular-season debut as the starting left guard when the Blue Bombers take on the Toronto Argonauts as Canad Inns Stadium.

"It's pretty exciting," the 6-foot-4, 323-pound University of Regina product said yesterday. "I wasn't too sure how things were going to pan out when I first came in and now, it's look like I'll be playing (tomorrow)."

LaBatte, who will replace injured guard Matt Sheridan (groin), will have to get up close and personal with the 'Kissing Bandit.'

"Brendon has proven that he is capable of going in there," said Bomber head coach Doug Berry. "But we're still talking about a young, 22-year-old rookie that's going to be going against a seasoned guy like Adriano Belli.

"But Brendon is displaying that he is understanding what we're doing and I think he'll have a physical presence about him only because he's surrounded by guys who won't let him play any other way."

LaBatte credited both centre Dominic Picard and offensive tackle Alexandre Gauthier for helping him along.

"Dominique has been a huge help," LaBatte said. "He helped me out a lot in getting more comfortable with everything and Gauthier's always there picking a guy up. He's never one to really yell at you and say you screwed up. He's always there saying, 'We'll get it next time.' So, it's great playing beside those two guys.

"It will be nice to finally get out there and see what it's all about. I'm tired of thinking about it, I just want to get out there and finally get to hit somebody."

NO TROY: There was no sign of banished kicker Troy Westwood at yesterday's practice, despite the fact that punter Duncan O'Mahony will miss tomorrow's contest with a broken toe.

"First of all, Troy Westwood was not our punter, he was our field goal kicker and even though he did fill in for us punting last year, I feel like I'm committed to (Alexis) Serna right now," Berry said.

Although Serna is not the punter, either, the import placekicker will punt tomorrow night.

"I'm not going to tell you he's the best punter in the league but if we can go out there and net what we were used to netting last year, we should be OK," said Berry, who is more concerned with making most of the field goal attempts.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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