Injuries force D to adjust

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

Insanity week continues.

Not only did the Blue Bombers start it off with their version of Deal or No Deal, they wound up with just two days to adjust to changes to almost half the defence that collapsed in the fourth quarter last Sunday -- while preparing for their biggest game of the season.

Winnipeg has made five changes to the defence for tomorrow's CFL game against the Argos in Toronto.

Newly-acquired middle linebacker Zeke Moreno will replace the injured Joe Lobendahn. Newly-signed defensive end/linebacker Kai Ellis will likely share defensive end duties with Shawn Mayne, replacing the ill Tom Canada. Kelly Malveaux will move up to replace the injured Ike Charlton at strong outside (SAM) linebacker. Cornerback Jovon Johnson will move inside to replace Malveaux and Stanford Samuels will come off the bench to replace Johnson at corner. (Whew!)

"I'm not worried about anything," Bomber head coach Doug Berry claimed yesterday. "The guys we have playing in the different positions have played the positions before and are going to fit in. They understand the system.

"Zeke Moreno is the new guy on the block. He will be a little like the fish out of water but if you're talking about Malveaux or Jovon or Stanford, those guys know what's going on."

Yet, the most dramatic change may come at SAM linebacker. While Malveaux replaced an injured Charlton for two games last season, he is more comfortable at DB.

"The potential of playing more of the game in the box (close to the line of scrimmage) is one of the things that I don't like," he readily admitted. "I want to prolong my career, not shorten it.

"I played a couple of games last year when Ike was down and out. I did the best I could at 187 pounds."

Charlton, by comparison, weighs in at 208 pounds, standing at six feet even.

"The good thing about this thing is that they'll probably challenge me with the run and see how I fill up," said the 5-foot-9 Malveaux. "But I think I can put myself into position to make the play and not get nailed. So, the upside is I get a chance to do what I've been doing my whole career and that's covering."

It should be noted that Bomber coaches gave Malveaux -- one of the CFL's surest tacklers -- full marks for the outstanding job he did replacing Charlton last year.

"Sometimes, you make a play just by hustle, just being aware and have some savvy about the game," he said. "I take it as a compliment when guys respect me as a tackler or a hitter and being a cover man as well. I truly take pride in all of those phases."

Malveaux, 32, has also played free safety and both inside DB spots this season.

"I think it's a true testament to having a firm grasp on what the defence is called for and being able to move around as much as I have," he said. "I take that as a compliment and I thank the coaches for having that kind of confidence in me ... I just hope that doesn't go unnoticed."

Still, juggling that many players around with such a short time to prepare is sure to play havoc with the defensive dozen.

"The nice thing is that they are all extremely intelligent guys," said weak-side linebacker Cam Hall. "They're going to be able to figure what they have to do, then they're going to execute it at 110 m.p.h.

"With the guys coming, and the ones that are already here, we're going to rally and something good is going to happen."


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