New coach 'knows Bomber football'

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

When a former player pays you respect more than a dozen years after being part of the same outfit, it speaks volumes.

Michael Richardson, who was a Blue Bombers running back when Mike Kelly was an assistant coach in Winnipeg during the 1990s, was one of a few former players who came to Kelly's press conference when the Bombers made his hiring as the new head knock official.

"Mike knows what Bomber football is about," Richardson said recently. "When he was around, we had some good seasons. He's experienced, he knows what he's doing and I'm excited to see him back here. I'm looking forward to the season getting started."

The Bombers went to the Grey Cup in both 1992 and '93 during Kelly's last tenure, losing both.

"He's going to be a thorough coach, I know that for sure," Richardson added. "He's going to make sure the players are ready to play once Game Day arrives. I know Mike is the kind of guy who prepares his guys mentally and I think that's what's needed by this organization.

"I know Mike knows how to look for players, too. That's an added benefit. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be interesting to see what the Bombers look like and also, if we can get that old Bomber attitude back in the locker-room."

Because he would still like to become a guest coach in the future, Richardson declined to divulge any embarrassing stories about Winnipeg's new mentor.

"I want to get off to a fresh start," he said. "Maybe a little bit later."

GAME-BREAKER?: Although he had been among the walking wounded with a still-undisclosed injury the last couple of days, kick returner Ramonce Taylor had opened a lot of eyes during training camp.

"I'm just out here having fun playing football," said the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Texas product, who is expected to suit up tonight. "You know, football's my No. 1 love so, I'm fighting for a job so I've got to come out and give it 100% every time."

Taylor, 23, even returned a kickoff for a touchdown during last Friday's Blue-Gold scrimmage.

"I like this bigger a field a lot," said Taylor, who can also play receiver and running back. "You know, it's a lot of space and it gives me the opportunity to make plays and make a lot of moves and get into the endzone. I'm enjoying the field but I've still got to get used to it."

A KEEPER?: Chalk Jonathan Hefney down as another who has gone a long way to earn a roster spot, even after being converted to strong outside linebacker from defensive back.

"It was an adjustment for me but, in college, I played a lot of nickle so I was always in the box -- and I played safety, too," said the 5-foot-9, 190-pound Tennessee product. "So, I was always in the box around the linemen and hitting guys. So, it's nothing new. It's an adjustment as far as the steps go but I'm pretty much having fun with it ... It's sort of like being a DB. I just feel like I can make a lot more plays on the running back now."

Taylor and Hefney are just two examples of how the big picture will change this season.

"What people can recognize is that, athletically, we've made some strides from last year's roster to this year's roster and Hefney is part of that," Kelly said. "Overall, athletically, we are a better football team now. We still have a long way to go but when you have guys who can run like Hefney and Ramonce Taylor, the whole group of DBs we have -- when you have guys who can run, you have a chance to be successful."


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