Blue shuffle the deck

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

MONTREAL -- One of the most popular Blue Bombers will get a realistic crack at going to the Grey Cup now.

Non-import receiver Arjei Franklin, import receiver Romby Bryant, a third-round pick in the 2010 CFL draft and the right to an undisclosed negotiation-list player were dealt to the Calgary Stampeders for import receiver/kick returner Titus Ryan, non-import receiver Jabari Arthur, import defensive lineman Odell Willis and two picks in the 2010 draft (fourth and sixth round) yesterday.

"It is a shocker but I'm a professional," Franklin told Sun Media. "I take pride in that and working hard and being prepared.

"It caught me by surprise. I had no clue it would happen. I'm excited about it. I've watched the way Calgary has played football for a long time and I think, for a young Canadian receiver, it's a good place to be."

The reigning Grey Cup champs just lost Canadian wide receiver Ryan Thelwell to injury.

"I'm a competitor, I look forward to getting on the field and helping the Stamps win games," said Franklin, who comes off the nine-game injury list this week but has been practising full out for weeks. "At the same time, I wish Ryan Thelwell all the best. You never want gain any advantage based on someone else's injury."

Although there were rumours Bryant had asked to be released last week, those had been denied. Bryant does not speak to the media.

According to former Bomber Milt Stegall, commenting for TSN at halftime of the Saskatchewan-Edmonton game, Franklin and Bryant are pleased to be moving on.

"Both of these guys are happy. Arjei felt he wasn't being used correctly in Winnipeg. They tried to offer him a contract extension but he didn't take it because he didn't like what was going on there.

"Romby Bryant loves the fact he's out of there. He's been asking since Day 2 or 3 to get me out of there."

None of the Stampeders heading Winnipeg's way could be reached for comment.

The 29-year-old Bryant is in his second CFL season and has 20 catches for 232 yards through 11 games. Last season, he led the Bombers with 1,205 yards and nine TDs on 65 receptions. Franklin started all 18 regular-season games in 2008 and had 49 catches for 566 yards and a touchdown. The 27-year-old has been out with an ankle injury.

The deal was announced in the wake of yesterday's 33-14 loss in Montreal, overshadowing the fact it was Winnipeg's third straight, all by big scores. And it does not address the team's need at quarterback.

"Nothing we are doing is acting out of haste or a knee-jerk reaction," said Bomber director of player personnel John Murphy. "We're looking at a lot of different avenues to improve on what we have right now. We're not sacrificing the oportunity we still have. We've got Toronto at home next week, B.C. coming to us.

"We're losing two great guys. You always have to give something to get something. Both of them played hard for us ... I have expectations that both guys will go there and do well. On the other side, I like what we're getting in return."

Willis, who has six sacks, became expendable in Calgary with the recent additions of Charleston Hughes and Tearrius George. And the Bombers needed to replace injured defensive end Fred Perry.

EDWARDS OK: Winnipeg SB Terrence Edwards was knocked cold after Diamond Ferri picked off a Michael Bishop pass but said he was OK after the game.

HASHMARKS: It's crowded atop the CFL's West Division after Edmonton's 31-27 win in Regina yesterday left the Eskimos, Riders and Stamps with 6-5 records.

The B.C. Lions improved to 4-6 late Friday night with a 23-17 win over the visiting Toronto Argonauts. It was Wally Buono's 232nd win, making him the CFL's all-time winningest coach, passing Don Matthews.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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