Rookie defensive tackles get job done

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers started a pair of raw rookies at defensive tackle against Ricky Ray, and the Edmonton Eskimos mustered only 19 points.

That, according to middle linebacker Barrin Simpson, is a great sign.

Don Oramasionwu and Dorian Smith had to fill in for esteemed veterans Doug Brown and Tyrone Williams on Thursday night at Commonwealth Stadium, and the result wasn't disastrous like some thought it would be.

"We're very good. We got some depth," Simpson said. "Our two young guys in there, Don and Dorian, they played great. I tip my hat to the young defensive tackles. They filled in well."

Smith knew for at least a week that he was going to start in place of Williams, but Oramasionwu found out only a few hours before game time that he was going in for Brown, who was suffering from a viral infection.

It left little time for the former University of Manitoba Bison to let friends and family know he was going to start in his first CFL game.

"I found out pretty late, right after the pre-game meal," said Oramasionwu, a fifth-round draft pick in 2008. "We were on the bus right after that, so people might have found out when they were watching on TV."

The 6-foot-3, 287-pound Winnipegger was pleased with his performance. The Esks managed only 33 rushing yards, but they did lose starting running back Jesse Lumsden to a shoulder injury in the first quarter.

"I played OK, but I knew Doug's such a great player," Oramasionwu said. "I just didn't want the guys to think that there'd be such a huge void at that position.

"I just hope that they may have more confidence in me to start if something like this should actually happen again. They couldn't run, so we did our job inside."

RETURN GAME WOES: Head coach Mike Kelly said he will likely stick with the same kick returners who struggled on Thursday in Edmonton.

"You have one of the better ones in the league on the other side going against us (Tristan Jackson), so it looks dramatically different," Kelly said. "We'll keep working at it, and I have confidence in the guys that we have to do a better job."

SICK BAY UPDATE: Brown remained in Edmonton yesterday, still not healthy enough to fly back to Winnipeg, but he told the Sun via text message that he is "on the road to recovery."

Linebacker Joe Lobendahn has a bruised shoulder and is day-to-day, while cornerback James Johnson (knee), Williams (hip, knee), safety Steven Holness (shoulder) and defensive end Riall Johnson (hamstring) will all be evaluated today when the team returns to practice.


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