Bombers looking for trading partner

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

Joe Smith was the CFL's leading rusher when he started at running back for the B.C. Lions in 2007.

Fred Reid averaged 7.0 yards a carry when he took over the starting tailback spot from Charles Roberts after Winnipeg dealt him to B.C. for Smith last season.

In the same backfield, they became Thunder and Lightning for the Blue Bombers last year.

But, with the sudden emergence of explosive newcomer Lavarus Giles on the scene, the futures of either Thunder or Lightning -- or both -- as a Bomber this season is now in serious doubt.

Smith is 6-foot-2 and 224 pounds but will turn 30 this August. The quicker Reid is 5-foot-10 and 190, and is 27.

Giles, meanwhile, not only wowed the masses with his performance in a pre-season game against the Alouettes in Montreal on Tuesday, he is "a find" by club director of player personnel John Murphy. Giles is also fast for his 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, and only 23.

With rookie Yvenson Bernard still in the mix but banged up, it is highly unlikely that the Bombers will keep all four import backs. So, you can bet the Bombers were likely shopping either Smith or Reid around before this afternoon's cutdown deadline.

"I can't talk to that right now," Bomber head coach Mike Kelly responded when asked if the club was planning to deal a tailback or two when he arrived home from Montreal yesterday. "We have to go into discussions and I can't really give you an answer on that right now."

Murphy, however, did say something about needing a trading partner while most teams were paring their rosters.

Offensive lineman

With the Bombers somewhat concerned over the injury that starting guard Brendon LaBatte suffered Tuesday, they could be in the market for a Canadian offensive lineman.

After a decent outing in Winnipeg's first pre-season game, Giles rushed for 161 yards on only 12 carries, including a 77-yard touchdown run versus the Als.

"In two pre-season games, we're averaging around 180 yards a game and that's been with the two returning running backs watching," Kelly said. "So the two young kids have certainly proven themselves to be more than competent."

Neither Smith nor Reid dressed for either pre-season outing.

"We know who they are," Kelly said. "We know exactly what we're going to get out of those guys. They're good football players and have deserved the right to go ahead and rest, and be ready for Edmonton."

But it would be a surprise if both dressed for the club's season-opener versus the Eskimos in Edmonton on July 2 along with Giles.

Both age and money could be determining factors.

"There's a lot that goes into it, obviously -- chemistry in the locker-room," Kelly said.

"We don't want to be too young but we don't want to be too old. We're trying to find a nice blend there.

"Unfortunately, there's always salary management cap issues and where they are in their contracts. But ... I don't want those to be overwhelming influences on how we decide if we keep or release a player."

Both Smith and Reid have signed contracts that would pay them significantly more than either Giles or Bernard. And, like both Smith and Reid, Giles can return kicks to boot.

Giles, however, is not about to start shopping for a home here.

"I think I did pretty good but there's always room for improvement," said the Jackson State product. "In my mind, I think I have (made the team) but you never know what's going to happen ... I hope I've made the team."


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