Match-up against ex-team 'overrated'

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

Thursday night's season-opener between the Bombers and Eskimos will be like one big family reunion.

There are no fewer than 18 players and coaches from both sides who will be facing their former team.

Twelve of them made the move just this past winter, including new Bomber head coach Mike Kelly and quarterback Stefan LeFors.

Winnipeg outside linebacker Siddeeq Shabazz was traded to the Bombers from the Eskimos in February, but he believes facing your ex-team, for the most part, is an overrated event.

"I've been through it so many times, been on a bunch of different teams in different leagues," Shabazz said. "Once I get there, being in the old stadium that was home for two years, you'll probably feel it a little bit. But leading up to it it's not like, 'Oh, Edmonton! Edmonton!'

"But I do want to get out there Week 1 and play and lay some hat."

SHINY NEW DEAL: The Bombers have rewarded running back Lavarus Giles with a contract extension for his pre-season work.

It's for two years and an option, meaning the 6-foot-1, 213-pound Mississippi native won't be able to take another shot at the NFL until 2011 at the earliest.

The Bombers also threw in some incentives that could make it a six-figure deal down the road.

Giles ran for 238 yards and three touchdowns in the team's two exhibition games, which led to Joe Smith's release.

Giles, who will share the backfield this season with Fred Reid, has tried out unsuccessfully for three NFL teams: Jacksonville, St. Louis and New Orleans.

HEY, I KNOW YOU: Kelly believes the Bombers will have a better feel for what the Eskimos are going to do on Thursday than the other way around.

"We all have a pretty good feel for Jim Daley," he said. "We know what (Esks head coach) Richie (Hall) likes to do. We've got volumes on both of those guys. I worked with Rick Worman last year on the offensive side, so I certainly have an idea what that's all about. We'll be prepared.

"... They probably have an idea about some of my offensive philosophies, but we're not running anything that is even remotely similar to their offence."

AND WE QUOTE: "I know Cal Murphy's watching, and I don't want to disappoint Cal. When he sees the football team I want him to say, 'OK, that's the way it's supposed to look.' So maybe that's on my mind. Anything other than that, I'm just doing my job."

-- Kelly, discussing his football mentor when asked about how he feels leading up to his Bomber head coaching debut.

LATE HITS: Defensive tackle Doug Brown missed yesterday's practice because of the flu ... Offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte, who suffered a neck injury in Montreal last week, was back on the field and looks ready to go for Thursday ... Defensive end Riall Johnson and receiver Derick Armstrong were mostly spectators yesterday ... The Bombers will continue to practise at the St. James Rods field, hitting the natural grass today and tomorrow at 10:45 a.m.

FAMILIAR FACES

Bombers, Eskimos facing former teams Thursday:

WINNIPEG

LB Siddeeq Shabazz*

QB Stefan LeFors*

CB Keyuo Craver

DE Fred Perry*

SB Brock Ralph*

head coach Mike Kelly*

special teams coach Rick Campbell*

EDMONTON

DB Kelly Malveaux*

RB Graeme Bell*

SB Kamau Peterson

OL Aaron Fiacconi

DE Kai Ellis*

S Jason Nugent*

OL Kyle Koch*

CB Willie Amos*

OL Garrick Jones

defensive co-ord. Jim Daley

offensive co-ord. Rick Worman

* moved this off-season


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