Bomber hopeful aiming to make the cut

Luke Fritz is one of many Blue Bombers hopefuls who will be gunning to impress. (Marcel Cretain/QMI...

Luke Fritz is one of many Blue Bombers hopefuls who will be gunning to impress. (Marcel Cretain/QMI AGENCY)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:45 PM ET

It’s their last chance to win a job.

Sure, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have two more practices next week at Rods Field before Thursday’s required cutdown to 46 players, but Sunday’s second and final pre-season game in Hamilton against the Tiger-Cats (noon, Shaw) means a whole lot to the young guns shooting for gainful employment.

Several veterans don’t have to worry. The Bombers left 20 players in Winnipeg for Sunday’s game, and about half of them have starting spots locked up — for now, anyway.

“Every person should think about not being secure,” head coach Paul LaPolice said. “The biggest motivation for me, and we’ve educated our players about this, is internal. If a guy’s not going to perform very well, they may be safe for a week or two, but it’s not going to last very long.

“I would say every veteran, every person, if we’re not producing well, we’ll make changes.”

With that being said, here are six positions that are still up in the air and will be watched closely on Sunday:

Weak-side linebacker

Courtney Smith, formerly of the B.C. Lions, got first-team reps at the start of camp but didn’t play last week against Montreal. Marty Bowman, whom LaPolice calls Baby Lamar (as in McGriggs), did suit up and had four tackles and two special teams takedowns. The fact they brought in Merrill Johnson on Thursday, however, shows perhaps they’re still haven’t found their man. Does anyone have Derrick Doggett’s phone number?

Halfback

There are two openings up for grabs following the departures of Lenny Walls and Jonathan Hefney. Keyuo Craver appears to have a stranglehold on the strong-side spot, but the weak-side job isn’t as solidified. Brandon Stewart, Clint Kent, Alex Suber and Jason Tate are candidates. Stewart, who’s hurt, and Kent won’t play on Sunday.

Canadian receiver

Depending on what happens on the offensive or defensive lines as far as Canadians are concerned, there will be one or two starting Canucks in the receiving corps. Brock Ralph has the first one locked up, and the second (or backup spot) is up for grabs. After getting off to a hot start, top draft pick Cory Watson has cooled off a bit in camp, while Aaron Hargreaves has been steady. Scott McHenry is also on the trip to Hamilton.

Import receiver

There is one or potentially two starting spots available after Terrence Edwards and Adarius Bowman. Terence Jeffers-Harris, who was Winnipeg’s top receiver in the first pre-season game but hasn’t stood out in practice lately, has a big fan in GM Joe Mack. Chris Davis, the former Ticat, has CFL experience. It appears that it’s their jobs to lose. Recent signee Jamayel Smith will try to win one of them on Sunday.

Right tackle

Again, depending on what happens with the ratio elsewhere, it could be a Canadian or American. Import Andre Douglas has been getting most of the first-team reps since Glenn January tore his pectoral muscle last Sunday, but the team signed another American, Carlton Medder, on Thursday. Luke Fritz is the Canuck hopeful.

Kick returner

The Bomber brass will finally find out if Travis Shelton was worth the wait. The Temple star has been injured for all of main camp, but he was kept around for Sunday’s game. If he bombs, the job could revert to Jovon Johnson. LaPolice, however, doesn’t want his star cornerback doing double duty. Willie Foster and almost every rookie receiver are also candidates.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos