Armstrong likely on the move

Blue Bombers' Derick Armstrong during practice on June 12, 2009 in Winnipeg. (Marcel Cretain/Sun...

Blue Bombers' Derick Armstrong during practice on June 12, 2009 in Winnipeg. (Marcel Cretain/Sun Media)

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

The Derick Armstrong saga took a significant twist yesterday, and it has left the star receiver's future with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in doubt.

A CFL source said Armstrong and head coach Mike Kelly had such a heated argument in the head coach's office yesterday that players and assistant coaches in the vicinity had to enter the room and step between them.

Kelly wouldn't comment last night, but the team's PR department issued this statement: "Whatever happened between them was part of those two dealing with things between each other and moving past this issue."

The Bombers, however, have placed the 6-foot-2, 215-pound wide receiver on recallable waivers, which is usually the first step in a team either releasing or trading a player. If a team puts in a claim on Armstrong, the Bombers can recall him and then try to work out a trade with the interested squad.

According to the source, Kelly and Armstrong originally settled their differences on Friday after the former NFLer refused to play in Thursday's season-opening game at Edmonton, a 19-17 loss to the Eskimos.

They met twice on Friday; once to discuss the fact that he refused to play the night before, and then again after a winnipegsun.com story about Armstrong's unhappiness with the Bomber brass appeared online.

However, Armstrong went to Kelly's office yesterday around noon, apparently after discovering his locker had been cleaned out, which would suggest his time in Blue and Gold is over.

The conversation quickly deteriorated into a yelling match. The bystanders, which included offensive lineman Kelly Bates, stepped in before the situation got out of control.

Put to bed

When Kelly met with the media yesterday afternoon (prior to the Sun's knowledge of the incident), he said the Armstrong issue had been put to bed. He wasn't exactly convincing, however, when asked if the former Houston Texan would be on the practice field today at Canad Inns Stadium.

"As of right now, yes," Kelly said.

When pressed, he said "yes" three times that Armstrong would be present today when the Bombers begin their preparations for Friday's home-opener against the Calgary Stampeders.

The Bomber PR department asked the media to stop inquiring about the Armstrong incident after five questions. The only other thing Kelly said about the matter was it was "absolutely" disappointing Armstrong put himself before the team on Thursday night.

Armstrong was docked half of his game cheque for refusing to go into Thursday's contest.

Due to Doug Brown's viral infection that forced the defensive tackle to miss the match against the Eskimos, Kelly and the Bomber coaching staff decided to make a receiver a designated import.

Since Armstrong is dealing with knee pain that kept him off the practice field from time to time during training camp, Kelly put the DI tag on him, making him a backup behind first-year Bomber Adarius Bowman.

When Armstrong was told it was time to go in the game in the first quarter, he refused and ended up watching the entire game from the sidelines in his equipment.

The 30-year-old, who has had two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, told the Sun on Friday that he deserved to be a starter and play the whole game, rather than platooning. He also wasn't happy that he was told of his new role just prior to game time.

"I didn't want to rotate," Armstrong said. "I felt like I didn't have to rotate, given the years and experience that I've played in this game.They didn't give me the most respect and let me know ahead of time, so I just figured I would return the same favour."

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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