O-lineman a Bishop believer

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

The latest instalment of "Is Michael Bishop a good quarterback or not?" appears set to begin Saturday at Rogers Centre.

The newly acquired Winnipeg quarterback took 75% of the practice reps at rainy Canad Inns Stadium yesterday, making it all but certain he will start against his former team on Saturday when the Bombers (1-3) battle the Argos (2-2).

Winnipeg head coach Mike Kelly will officially reveal his starter today.

Bishop has tantalized and tortured the teams he's played for since arriving in the CFL in 2002, but one man who should have a solid grasp of Bishop's skills is Bombers right tackle Glenn January.

The two were teammates in Toronto in 2007, in Saskatchewan for the second half of 2008 and now in Winnipeg.

January is a believer in Bishop and felt, without going into detail, that the former Kansas State star got the short end of the stick in both Toronto and Regina.

"Last year (in Saskatchewan) he was kind of put in a tough position, where they put a lot of expectations on him and he got blamed for things that weren't necessarily his fault," January said.

"You know what you're going to get when you put Bishop in there. He's going to be an athletic quarterback, he's not going to get taken down by one guy, and he's going to beat people with his feet and his arm."

Bishop backers point to 2007 as a reason to believe in the 33-year-old. The Argos were 11-1 with him as a starter and 0-6 when he wasn't the man behind centre.

"That right there just shows you the difference he can make when put in the right situation," January said.

On the flip side, Bishop had the lowest completion percentage and second-worst efficiency rating among the CFL's eight primary starters in that '07 campaign. In addition, many credited the Argo defence for winning several of the games.

And when the Bombers beat Bishop and the Argos 19-9 in the East Division final on Nov. 18, 2007, much of the blame was placed squarely on Bishop's shoulders.

The following spring the Boatmen traded for Kerry Joseph.

BIG GUN: Kelly was asked yesterday if Bishop's arm was as strong as Matt Dunigan's.

"Not quite, but pretty close," said Kelly, who was Dunigan's offensive co-ordinator in the early 1990s. "I saw Michael throw a couple balls today that we want to get up the seams in a hurry, and he was able to let it go in his backpedal.

"There's only three other guys that I've seen do that: Matt Dunigan, Donovan McNabb and Brett Favre. Mike has a big-time arm, there's no question about that."

LATE HITS: Wide receiver Adarius Bowman (hip flexor) was flying around the field yesterday, but Kelly said he's still doubtful for Saturday ... Special teamer Shawn Gallant watched practice yesterday due to an undisclosed ailment, but Kelly expects him to play this week ... The Saskatchewan Roughriders have released former Bomber offensive lineman Matt O'Meara.


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