Doing the safety dance

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

The stars have aligned for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to put one of their top defensive players back on the field without taking Joe Lobendahn out.

There's a good chance Siddeeq Shabazz, who has missed the last two games due to a bruised foot, will return to the Blue and Gold (2-5) tomorrow night against the B.C. Lions (3-4) as the starting safety.

Shabazz, who spent the first third of the season as Winnipeg's starting weak-side linebacker and leads the CFL with four interceptions, took plenty of snaps at safety yesterday in place of the injured Ian Logan (groin). Shabazz pretended to not know what was going on yesterday when asked about his potential position switch, but he noted that he spent half of the 2008 season playing safety for the Eskimos.

"I've played safety before in the past," Shabazz said, a slight smile creeping across his face.

When asked if he would feel comfortable playing safety, the New Mexico native said, "Yeah, I think I would."

The Bombers would be able to start Shabazz at safety due to defensive tackle Dorian Smith's shoulder injury that will force him to miss tomorrow night's clash at B.C. Place. Winnipeg product Don Oramasionwu will start beside Doug Brown in Smith's spot, which means the Bombers can replace Logan, a Canadian, with Shabazz.

Head coach Mike Kelly has also indicated that backup Canadian safeties Brady Browne and Shawn Gallant could get reps at safety tomorrow night as well.

Lobendahn and Shabazz have played in only one game together this season, when they platooned in the linebacking corps in the season-opener. Lobendahn got hurt in that game, however, and he returned when Shabazz got hurt.

A blessing

Shabazz just wants to get back on the field.

"It's good to even be out there practising," he said. "When you're standing out there for a couple of weeks, it just sucks to not be out there. So now I appreciate the fact that I can run and move around. You take that stuff for granted sometimes.

"There's people out there that don't even have the ability to walk. Really, that's what I was thinking when I got back out there. It's a blessing to just be out here running around."

UH-O: The questions keep coming at Kelly and Bomber quarterback Michael Bishop, the two main faces of a Winnipeg offence that is averaging a CFL-worst 17.9 points and 271 yards per game.

Members of the offensive coaching staff spoke earlier this week with Bishop's coach at Kansas State, Bill Snyder, to get some tips. Bishop talks to Snyder regularly himself, so he's a fan of that move.

"Me and him have been on the same page since 1998, so the communication there is great," Bishop said. "He's one of the guys that worked with me real close on a one-on-one basis. He knows things that I've been successful with.

"If they take his input and put it in, there's no doubt in my mind that things are going to open up for us."

It appears the Bombers have changed the way Bishop will do his receiver reads, and they want him to get the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible. They've selected the patterns that the receivers like most as well as the ones that give the Lions defence the most trouble.

"We've kind of trash-compacted the thing," Kelly said of the attack. "Hopefully we'll see the fruits of our efforts."

REID'S TAKE: Bombers running back Fred Reid raised some eyebrows last week when he told The Sun he didn't think the Alouettes linebackers were that good.

So the media went to the CFL's leading rusher yesterday to get his thoughts on the B.C. 'backers.

"They're about the same, I'd say," Reid said, who backtracked on last week's statement by adding: "They play with the same intensity. They play fast. That's all you can ask out of linebackers. That's all I can say about that."

Reid, who had 49 yards on 10 carries against Montreal, doesn't regret what he said last week.

"I'm going to still say what's on my mind and do what I gotta do," he said. "Hopefully that will get our offensive line more psyched up, the things I said. Maybe I shouldn't have said it. But I just told the truth."

LATE HITS: The Lions are 7 1/2-point favourites tomorrow night ... Expect the Bombers to make two lineup changes tomorrow night. Shabazz and defensive end Shawn Mayne will go in for Logan and Smith ... The Bombers will do their walk-through in Winnipeg this morning before departing for Vancouver later today. Normally the Bombers get up early the day before the contest and fly to their destination before doing their "mock game." ... WR Terrence Edwards didn't practise again yesterday but Kelly said he will still play in B.C. ... Bomber players have the option of leaving for the bye week straight from Vancouver or flying back to Winnipeg first.


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