From first to worst

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

They can somehow find some silver lining in the fact that they have gone from the reigning Grey Cup champs to the last-place team in the CFL.

Import wide receiver Titus Ryan and import defensive end Odell Willis, who were acquired from the Calgary Stampeders along with non-import receiver Jabari Arthur on Sunday, were introduced as Blue Bombers shortly arriving in Winnipeg yesterday.

"I feel pretty good, I'm glad to be here," claimed Ryan, 25.

Why?

"I'm working, that's the most important thing," he replied. "They're taking a chance on me so, I've got to be thankful for that."

So is Willis.

"The good move is that I come over here and get a chance to play," said the rookie. "You know, I sat out last week. The bad news is leaving. I was just getting comfortable with the surroundings ... Other than that, I'm happy to be here."

Both players seemed blissfully unaware that fans have been calling for head coach Mike Kelly's head with some wearing paper bags over their heads at home games.

"That's not good," said Ryan. "Hopefully, things will turn around. It's positive thinking. You just keep thinking positive and do what we can do."

The Bombers are hoping the three ex-Stamps will help them do just that.

"It provides us with three guys that are young and under contract for an extended time," Kelly said.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Arthur was unavailable because he was driving here from Calgary yesterday.

The 6-foot, 190-pound Ryan can also return kicks. He has returned 42 punts for 315 yards this year and added seven catches for 111 yards and one touchdown in limited time. The Bombers plan to use him to spell off returners Jovon Johnson and Fred Reid. However, the speedster had fallen out of favour due to a bad case of fumble-itis on kick returns in Calgary. But Ryan did not know why he was deemed expendable.

"It's a business so they did what they had to do," he said. "It was unexpected ... I just saw (the deal announced) on TV so it kind of blew me away. I'm all right, though ... I try to make the most of every opportunity."

The 6-foot-2, 265-pound Willis recorded six quarterback sacks in his rookie season but his play tapered off and he was relegated to the sidelines with the arrival of more experienced defensive linemen.

"It was going OK," said Willis, 24. "I started off pretty hot, then it died down. I've just got to get re-focused and get back to doing what I was doing.

"With business, you never know. You play one minute and one minute you don't. So, you've just got to keep your head up and keep positive."

Willis will replace the injured Fred Perry, allowing Dorian Smith to move back inside where he had been more effective, Kelly said.

"We needed a better push in there the last couple of weeks and we think he provides that for us," he said.

Arthur, 27, is a former first-round draft pick and Kelly loves his size.

All three could play as soon as this Saturday when Winnipeg plays host to the Toronto Argonauts.

The Bombers sent non-import receiver Arjei Franklin and import receiver Romby Bryant to Calgary, along with an unidentified negotiation-list player, as well as exchanging some draft picks. Franklin was playing out his option. Although Bryant reportedly requested his release, Kelly declined to confirm it.

"We feel that with this trade we have improved our team both immediately and in the future," said Bombers director of player personnel John Murphy.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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