Canuck O-lineman right man for Blue?

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:44 AM ET

Luke Fritz figures he plugged enough holes along the offensive line well enough that the Blue Bombers coaches should be plugging him into the lineup this season.

The veteran non-import has played tackle, guard and, for the first time on Sunday, centre.

“I think I helped my cause,” Fritz said after the 38-20 loss to the Tiger-Cats in an exhibition game in Hamilton. “I felt really comfortable out there. Still just working on my techniques and trying to get better. I think, when they break down film, it’s going to be hard for them, with the combination of how I did and my experience, to not put me in that position.

“I definitely helped myself for the sixth-man position, and I think I really helped myself for the fifth man. But the crazy thing is, we’ve played both of our (pre-season) games and we have a lot of practices left.”

Fritz, who had started in Montreal for a number of years, signed with Winnipeg as a free agent last year but was relegated to backup status for all but two games last season. But the 6-foot-6, 300-pound Osoyoos, B.C., native could become a starter if in his ninth season the Bombers decide to go with four non-imports, especially with import tackle Glenn January out of action due to a shoulder injury.

“We’re trying to get better so, we’re moving people to all different spots and we’re trying to find out what the best matchup is with people at different spots,” said Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice. “If people are struggling, we can put people at different places. Luke played centre, tackle, guard. He’s able to go a number of different spots and that’s great flexibility to have.

“He’s never played centre before and he looked very good there. It allows us to have flexibility and we love flexibility in competition.”

Fritz relished the opportunity to show what he could do.

“They told me I was going to play a lot, so that was the nice thing,” he said. “Any time you’re on the field, you can’t take it lightly because you could get yourself hurt real bad. They put me in a good situation where I got to play continually for three quarters.

“I think I definitely helped myself, and I had fun.”

LaPolice said he will decide on his starting offensive line by Wednesday’s practice and he was not discounting import Kelly Butler as a starting offensive tackle.

Also helping his cause to find employment with the Bombers on Sunday was rookie O-lineman Adam Bestard. The 6-foot-4, 293-pound Wilfrid Laurier product replaced injured long snapper Chris Cvetkovic (knee).

“He did a great job,” LaPolice said. “He didn’t miss a beat. The snaps were great and he played well when he was in on offensive line. So, I complimented him in the airport (Sunday) night. He did a very good job.”

In fact, LaPolice planned to use Bestard as an example of a player who stood up when pressed into unexpected duty when addressing the team.

Although Bestard was a long snapper in college, he had not been practising them much in training camp as he concentrated on adapting to CFL play along the line. He has also been learning different O-line positions and could provide some depth for the club if Fritz earns a job as a starter.

— With files from Kirk Penton

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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