White boards better than white flags

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:08 AM ET

White boards on the sidelines?

Offensive linemen wearing wrist bands?

The running backs coach calling plays?

Hey, you can't accuse the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of not trying just about anything to get their dismal offence going.

"We're just trying to do a couple things that we haven't tried yet just to see if we can get some things jump-started a little bit," head coach Mike Kelly said.

One change will be Manny Matsakis, the running backs coach, doing some play-calling duties on the sidelines after moving down from the spotter's booth. Receivers coach Bob Dyce, meanwhile, is going from the sideline to the booth.

"We need to perhaps do a little better job of making checks at the line of scrimmage, and Manny has a background of calling plays and checking right from the line of scrimmage," Kelly said.

"So we're just trying to help our situation out a little bit to get a little better play on each and every play."

This doesn't mean Kelly has given up control of the offence, however.

"Haven't you read about my ego?" he asked. "No, I will be involved -- very much so.

"I'm going to have the headset on. Nothing has really changed other than some operations. That's all it is."

Matsakis was running the offensive show yesterday during the team's first practice since its 29-14 loss to Saskatchewan in the Labour Day Classic. The Bombers (3-6) and Riders (5-4) will meet in the sixth annual Banjo Bowl on Sunday at a sold-out Canad Inns Stadium.

Every offensive player was wearing a wrist band with the plays on it yesterday, including the lineman. Centre Obby Khan said they weren't allowed to talk about the wrist bands, however, and declined comment.

The wrist bands followed the use of white boards during the Labour Day Classic. Backup quarterbacks Stefan LeFors and Bryan Randall each held up a sign with a play number on it.

Kelly admitted there were some instances on Sunday when the receivers might have had trouble seeing the numbers and ended up running the wrong play. Regardless, Kelly said his goal is to go completely huddle-free.

"We're going to continue to try to work at things and try different things until we get this thing right," he said.

LATE HITS: Backup safety Brady Browne (elbow) is expected to miss five or six weeks after getting hurt on Sunday in Regina ... Safety Ian Logan was back practising yesterday, as was cornerback-returner James Johnson ... Right tackle Glenn January and defensive tackle Pat MacDonald had a scrap during yesterday's workout ... Bombers director of player personnel John Murphy is back in Winnipeg after checking out 16 NFL camps. CFL teams can expand their practice rosters on Oct. 7 ... The Eskimos released linebacker Kitwana Jones yesterday, but the Roughriders, who traded him to Edmonton in May, scooped him up last night ... The Eskimos fired offensive co-ordinator Rick Worman yesterday and replaced him with Kevin Strasser. Worman was Winnipeg's offensive co-ordinator in 2001 ... Argos running back Jarrett Payton asked for and got his release yesterday ... The CFL has fined Argos GM Adam Rita $500 for yelling obscenities at a reporter following his team's 35-15 loss to Hamilton on Monday.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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