Fast backs in the running

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

It's fitting that some of the fastest guys on the team are in the most intriguing race for starting spots.

Even though the Bombers have two veteran running backs in Joe Smith and Fred Reid, rookies Lavarus Giles and Yvenson Bernard are still very much in the running.

Head coach Mike Kelly said yesterday that Smith and Reid, who are both nursing minor injuries, will not play tomorrow night in Montreal, but he noted it does not mean their starting spots are by any means safe.

"No, no, no. Not at all," Kelly said. "It means that we want to take a good hard look at these two young guys one more time. They had 141 yards on 28 carries the last time we played. We want to take a good look at them, and we're also letting the old guys heal up a little bit.

"But these two young kids have certainly warranted our attention, and we want to make sure that we're doing the right thing when we sit down and put this roster together."

A CFL source said Giles, who had two touchdowns in Wednesday's pre-season win over Hamilton, wouldn't be out of work long if the Bombers let him go. That, and his connection to director of player personnel John Murphy from last year in Calgary, likely means he's not going anywhere.

'BACKER UP: Jonathan Hefney and Jasper Johnson are a pair of rookies who are pushing the veteran linebackers.

"We've got some really good competition at the linebacker spots right now," Kelly said. "Some of those young kids have really come in and played even beyond expectations. And, of course, some of these veteran players came in here and are playing as well as we've seen them play.

"They're all tough decisions, but these are good problems to have."

OOPS!: Winnipeg continues to give away draft picks without even making trades.

The Bombers have had to change the original pick -- and throw in an additional choice -- from last month's trade with the B.C. Lions that brought Kelly Bates to Winnipeg. The alteration had to be made after it was discovered the original selection could end up being sent to Edmonton as a conditional pick.

The Bombers were going to send their 2011 fifth-round choice to the Lions for Bates, but it could end up going to the Eskimos if offensive lineman Kelly Butler, whose rights were acquired in the Anthony Malbrough deal, reports next year and plays nine games.

So Winnipeg has now surrendered a sixth-rounder in 2011 and a fifth-rounder in 2012 to make up for the acquisition of Bates.


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