Bombers' depth hit after Brown sits

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

EDMONTON -- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were looking to get off to a winning start.

Not having one of their best players in the lineup certainly didn't help in their 19-17 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos, but it wasn't the reason for the setback.

Defensive tackle Doug Brown, who was Winnipeg's top player, top defensive player and top Canadian in 2008, was unable to play last night due to the flu.

"I had a huge setback when I came out here," Brown told the Sun in a text message from his Edmonton hotel room. "Otherwise I would not have wasted a roster spot and jeopardized our depth tonight."

Rookie Don Oramasionwu, a Winnipeg native who concluded his career with the University of Manitoba Bisons last fall, made his first career start as a result and notched two tackles and a sack. In addition, Tyrone Williams was banged up and didn't play last night, so he was replaced by rookie Dorian Smith.

The other Canadian defensive linemen at their disposal were Shawn Mayne and Riall Johnson, but both play the end position. And Johnson, who is nursing an undisclosed nagging injury, didn't make the trip.

Brown's absence meant the Bombers played with only 41 players instead of the maximum 42. Brown made the trip to Edmonton but didn't take part in Wednesday's walk-through. Head coach Mike Kelly said Brown, who missed practice on Sunday and Monday but worked out on Tuesday, was suffering from a headache and was given the afternoon off.

If the Bombers thought there was a chance Brown couldn't have played, they could have flown in practice roster defensive tackle Montez Murphy, an import, and altered their ratio by starting another Canadian elsewhere.

The Bombers were also without wide receiver Derick Armstrong, who dressed for the game but hardly played, if at all. He has been slowed by injuries since arriving for training camp.

Arjei Franklin got significant playing time instead.


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