Who you know helps

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

When Bombers head coach Mike Kelly released Joe Smith on Thursday, one of his reasons for the dismissal was that the running back missed a few practices due to injury.

Which begs the question: What is Siddeeq Shabazz still doing in Blue and Gold?

The outside linebacker missed almost all of training camp and both pre-season games due to an ankle injury. He got hurt wrestling with one of his brothers before reporting to camp.

If not being able to practise is a reason for not making the squad, then Shabazz should have been in trouble. But he was never in danger of getting his walking papers, because Kelly is a big fan of the 28-year-old import.

'LUCKY'

Kelly and Shabazz were together in Edmonton last season, which is why the Bomber boss traded for him in February, sending defensive end Kai Ellis to the Eskimos.

Kelly admitted that Shabazz sticking with the Bombers was a case of who he knew and not what he did during training camp.

"Yeah, he's probably lucky, and Jasper Johnson isn't so lucky," Kelly said of Shabazz's main camp competitor.

"But that's the realities of it."

Shabazz doesn't call it lucky, but he acknowledged that their time in Edmonton together last year certainly didn't hurt.

"It's just a testament to the relationship that we've built," said Shabazz, a 28-game NFL veteran. "And he knows what kind of worker I am, so I'm just glad that he noticed that I am a hard worker.

"And even if I'm missing out on some reps, he knows I'm getting mental reps, I'm studying, I'm putting in the work to get healthy."

Shabazz participated in his first full practice yesterday, getting reps with the first-team defence at weak-side linebacker.

Afterwards he declared himself ready to play in Thursday's season-opener.

"I'm practising like I'm going to play," said Shabazz, who will wear Charles Roberts' old No. 1. "I've been doing a lot of cardio and stuff. Game speed is always an adjustment, but I'm not too worried about that.

"I trained hard this off-season, so I don't think I'll be too far out of shape."

The 6-foot, 205-pound Shabazz had 64 tackles, three sacks, four tackles for a loss and one interception last season with the Eskimos, which was his second in the CFL.


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