Rookie gets the call

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

One of the most asked questions this week at Bomber practice hasn't involved the quarterbacks or the team's 0-4 record.

It's been this: How do you pronounce Lobendahn?

For the record, it's LOW-ben-dahn. You better learn it, because it looks like the Hawaii native is going to be playing smack dab in the middle of the Bomber defence for a while.

The bad news became official late yesterday afternoon: veteran middle linebacker Barrin Simpson is done for the year because of a torn pectoral muscle suffered in Friday's 27-18 loss to B.C.

Simpson, who has been placed on the nine-game injured list, will have surgery Thursday.

"Defensively we'll certainly miss Barrin," head coach Doug Berry said. "He brings a lot to the field. He's an inspirational man. Guys listen to what he has to say. It's not just a lot of gibberish."

While he won't have the same presence as Simpson, the middle linebacking job now turns to Lobendahn, a 25-year-old rookie from Honolulu who played at the University of Washington.

"I am ready. This is my chance," Lobendahn said. "Too bad that Barrin Simpson got hurt. He's a great player and has done a lot for this organization. I just gotta step in and play as well as him."

The Bombers must believe he can do just that, because they didn't race out to find a CFL veteran to fill the role. Lobendahn will get a good first test, because Thursday's opponent, the Calgary Stampeders, boasts one of the league's most explosive offences.

Bombers outside linebacker Ike Charlton attended Detroit Lions camp last year with Lobendahn, and both were last-minute cuts. Charlton, who vowed to play Thursday despite a wonky knee, is a big fan of Lobendahn's.

"He's a true middle linebacker. That's what he does," Charlton said. "He's a guy who has some smarts, he can zone drop pretty good, he can hit. He's an all-around good football player.

"When you lose a guy like Barrin, expectations are definitely going to be high for the next guy coming in, but he's hungry. He wants to go in there and do good. He's been staying out. He's been here early. We've got a lot of confidence in him."

Lobendahn, who coincidentally worked out for the Stampeders last year before getting the NFL offer from the Lions, has been getting plenty of help this week from Simpson.

"I need that. He's a leader," said Lobendahn, who like Simpson is 5-foot-11 and 235 pounds. "He doesn't stop talking, and he's out there with us even though he's hurt. That's a great player."

Lobendahn's father, Richard, just completed a two-week vacation, but he's thinking about using some sick days to make the trip from Honolulu to Winnipeg for Thursday's game.

"He's going to try to make it up here," Lobendahn said. "He's very excited."


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