Kelly shuts fans out

Bombers head coach Mike Kelly has been reluctant to release injury news on players. (Sun...

Bombers head coach Mike Kelly has been reluctant to release injury news on players. (Sun Media/Chris Procaylo)

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

It was during a CFL-sponsored conference call three weeks back -- Winnipeg Blue Bomber president Lyle Bauer and head coach Mike Kelly were fielding questions from media across the country.

After just a few minutes, the questions dried up, and there was silence.

"I told you they didn't like you," Bauer said to his coach.

"I don't care," was Kelly's reply.

And with those three words, you have the Blue Bomber attitude towards the people trying to get information to the public.

Most recent case in point: the injury suffered by offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte in Tuesday's preseason game in Montreal.

Here's the team's star O-lineman, down with who-knows-what, and Kelly refuses to talk about it.

Contrast this to what happened the same night in Saskatchewan.

All-star lineman Gene Makowsky went down, and by the end of the night Riders head coach Ken Miller had announced Makowsky had a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee and would be out three to four weeks.

Simple, isn't it?

Not in Kelly's world.

It's actually laughable.

The Bombers must declare their roster and injured list long before they play Edmonton in next week's season opener. There's no competitive edge to be gained by keeping the health of an O-lineman secret.

We can only presume this will be the modus operandi every time a player gets hurt.

The only losers in this: you, the fans, who might want to know if your quarterback needs elbow surgery, your receiver broke a thumb or your kicker sprained a toe.

Kelly will keep you waiting, and wondering, for no apparent reason.

Just like he won't confirm trades he makes, even though the other team has announced it.

He was even planning to keep today's cuts secret until tomorrow, but the league wouldn't allow it. As it is, he's shielding his new team from the media until Saturday, so you'll have to wait to hear how new players feel about becoming Bombers.

Why?

Because he simply doesn't care.

WHO DO YOU KEEP? No doubt Bomber fans care which running backs are going to stick around beyond today's cut-down deadline.

Since Kelly anointed Stefan LeFors as his starting quarterback the day he traded for him, the running back quandary is easily his most difficult decision on offence -- most important, too.

While rookie Yvenson Bernard is probably the odd man out, fellow rook Lavarus Giles looks too good to be going anywhere.

Where does that leave Fred Reid and Joe Smith, the two CFL vets who haven't got a single carry through the preseason?

Kelly could try to keep all three, sticking one on the practice roster. But that would expose him to other CFL teams, who can claim players from the P.R.

He could get personnel guy John Murphy to try to trade one, probably Smith.

Good luck trying to trade a player at this time of year, though. Teams are more apt to wait and see who gets cut.

Kelly could also keep one running back on the 46-man roster, but off the 42-man active roster, meaning he gets paid but doesn't play.

Or the coach who likes to hide injuries could try to hide a healthy running back on an "injured" list. That's one game of deceit fans could probably live with.

My guess: Smith is out of here, eventually, one way or the other.

THE KICKER: Could it be the Bombers finally have a kicking tandem that'll stick around for more than a couple of weeks?

Mike Renaud looks like a real punter, and placekicker Alexis Serna has a new lease on life, thanks in large part to Kelly's soft-gloves approach in comparison to Doug Berry's glare.

Of course, the real pigskin has yet to fly.

But Bomber fans might be able to stop chewing their nails every time third down comes around.


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