'Candy' man can play

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

Kelly Bates is a big movie buff who he can rattle off large sections of dialogue, especially from any flick featuring John Candy.

"Hey, you gotta be useful for something," the CFL offensive lineman joked over the phone yesterday from Saskatoon, a few hours after being traded from the B.C. Lions to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for a conditional 2011 draft pick.

The Bombers are hoping the 33-year-old from Humboldt, Sask., will be able to provide more than a few funny movie lines in the locker-room. And the man himself, who became somewhat famous for breaking the Grey Cup at Canad Inns Stadium in November 2006, plans to help out a little bit more, too, even though Lions head coach and GM Wally Buono felt he was expendable.

"In my head, I think I have two to three good years at the level that I'm at right now," said Bates, a substitute high school teacher in the off-season. "You'd be naive and ignorant to really think that you can play forever at the level you're at. I don't want to be one of those players that is trying to hang on and really shouldn't be.

"But I really feel that I can still can contribute. I feel my play has been really level and consistent over the last four or five years."

Bates, who has two years left on his contract, hasn't missed a game since 2004, he has appeared in 115 career games, he won the Grey Cup in '06, he was a CFL all-star at left guard in 2007, he has been to the playoffs seven times, and he can play any of the three interior positions on the offensive line.

The Bombers, however, are more excited about acquiring qualities you can't see on the stat sheet.

"You often can't trade for somebody who has work ethic, you often can't trade for somebody who knows how to win, and you often can't trade for someone who has played in the type of games that he has and been as durable as he has," director of player personnel John Murphy said.

"... It's the intangibles of that guy. Adding that to the picture, along with what we've added through free agency and then through the draft, I would feel pretty comfortable that the nucleus of this group, however it comes out of training camp, is going to surprise some people with how productive and how quickly they're able to gel together as a unit."

The Bombers lost starting Canadian offensive linemen Alexandre Gauthier, Dominic Picard and Kyle Koch via free agency, but they've since added veteran Canuck hogs Steve Morley, Luke Fritz and now Bates. It means the Bombers don't have to throw inexperienced talent on a line that will be protecting a starting quarterback with only a handful of CFL starts.

"What it really does is not put a timeline on our youngsters, which is very important, to let them develop at their speed," said Murphy, who believes Bates will be the perfect mentor for draft picks Mike Morris and Adam Bestard. "If (the youngsters) are ready to go, they'll be the starters. And if they need another year, if they're on the PR, if they head back to school, this gives us a firm group of vets to battle out at three spots."

To make roster room for Bates, the Bombers put Canadian O-lineman Bobby Singh on waivers and also did the same to Canuck defensive back Marc Beswick.

LATE HIT: Murphy yesterday confirmed the signing of import kicker Bradley Pierson, who has the ability to do both the punting and placekicking.

"He's done all three (punts, kickoffs and field goals) and is a young kid with a huge leg," Murphy said. "He's also an athlete. He's fast. I highly doubt (Alexis) Serna and (Dan) Giancola will be challenging him in the 40."


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