First stiff test for Kelly

Jason Armstead during practice at CanadInns Stadium. (Chris Procaylo/SUN MEDIA)

Jason Armstead during practice at CanadInns Stadium. (Chris Procaylo/SUN MEDIA)

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

Since being hired as head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Mike Kelly has talked a lot about getting players that represent the community.

That philosophy may face its first stiff test in the case of kick returner Jason Armstead.

Armstead has been slapped with domestic violence charges in Ocean Springs, Miss., after allegedly chasing his girlfriend and brandishing a pistol on the weekend.

Police say the woman called 911 asking for help, after which it's alleged Armstead led them on a brief chase in his white BMW.

Police say they found a loaded, .40 calibre Smith and Wesson in the BMW's front armrest.

A native of Moss Point, Miss., Armstead was released on $890 bail.

"As we gather more information about what the situation is, we'll address it when we feel it's an appropriate time," Kelly told Sun Media from the CFL coach-of-the-year meetings in Hamilton yesterday. "Obviously we're not pleased with any situation that involves a player like that. But right now we just sit and wait and see what happens."

Armstead was Winnipeg's primary kick returner last season, ranking fourth in the CFL in both punt and kickoff return yardage. He also took a punt back for a touchdown.

His case, of course, is far from closed.

Kelly wouldn't speculate what he'll do if Armstead's legal proceedings are ongoing when training camp rolls around.

But the day he was hired, Kelly made no bones about how he'll handle problem players.

"Get rid of a-holes," he said.

HAPPY FOR HUFF: At the other end of the emotional spectrum, Kelly said he couldn't be happier for CFL coach-of-the-year John Hufnagel.

He's always been inspired by the Huffer, Kelly said, going back to their days as rival offensive co-ordinators in the early 1990s, when they orchestrated the CFL's two most explosive offences, in Winnipeg and Calgary.

"When John had Doug Flutie and I had Matt Dunigan, we were one-two in almost every statistic," Kelly recalled. "It was quite a rivalry, and I've always respected John Hufnagel tremendously. And then I saw John come back to Calgary. He's one of the reasons I decided to come back to the league."

Hufnagel yesterday capped a dream rookie season as a CFL head man, allowing Kelly to dream big for a moment.

"The last Grey Cup I coached in was Edmonton against Winnipeg, in Calgary."

The significance? If Edmonton and Winnipeg meet in this year's Grey Cup (in Calgary), the coaches would be Kelly and the Eskimos Richie Hall.

"You got two first-year coaches there," Kelly said. "It'd be fun."

TRADITIONALIST: One of Kelly's claims to fame is that his XFL team, the Orlando Rage, was the only team to successfully complete a three-point convert.

So you'd think maybe he'd be in favour of some radical, CFL rule changes.

Not so.

"When you get that far away from the norm, there's a perception that it kind of cheapens the product," Kelly said. "And I don't want to do that."

A member of the rules committee, Kelly says the one issue he wants to see addressed in meetings today is a way to cut down on the number of safeties conceded.

GLENN UPDATE: Kelly spent yesterday in meetings to review the salary management system, which is fitting, since he's dealing with an issue that's all about salary management.

Quarterback Kevin Glenn is due a $50,000 bonus on March 15 (earlier reported to be due March 1), a not-so-small detail that's getting in the way of any possible trade.

Kelly is trying to get Glenn to restructure his deal and, no doubt, take a pay cut.

AND FINALLY: Please adjust your schedules: the Argonauts have moved their home game vs. the Bombers from July 30, a Thursday night, to Aug. 1, a Saturday afternoon.

Plan your weekends accordingly.


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