Bomber's riding a youth movement

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:42 PM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are getting up there, celebrating their 80th anniversary this year.

The team itself? A little younger than normal.

Head coach Paul LaPolice declared his 46-man roster on Thursday, and the 2010 version of the Blue and Gold is more than a full year younger than last year’s squad.

The average age of the 46-man roster announced Thursday is 26.2, whereas last year’s was 27.3. GM Joe Mack wanted to get younger and more inexpensive, and it appears LaPolice and his coaching staff helped him accomplish that goal through their selections.

“There were some great battles. It was a fun camp,” said LaPolice, in his first year as a pro head coach. “The neat thing we’ve talked about is we do think there’s a mixture of young and old in this group.”

The Bombers open the 2010 season next Friday night at home against their East Division rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats. LaPolice said he planned to address the team on Thursday night and tell them “there’s the talent here to win the Grey Cup.”

The greybeard of the squad is 35-year-old defensive tackle Doug Brown, while the baby face is receiver Terence Jeffers-Harris, who turned 22 on Thursday.

Jeffers-Harris will go into the season as a starter. Some of the other young guns who won jobs are weak-side linebacker Marcellus Bowman, 23, right tackle Kelly Butler, 27, and, most likely, left tackle Andre Douglas, 23, and receiver Cory Watson, 26.

Three of Winnipeg’s four draft picks — Watson, linebacker Chris Smith and offensive lineman Chris Greaves — made the team, as did five other players with limited or no pro experience: Jeffers-Harris, offensive lineman Adam Bestard, defensive tackles Deji Oduwole and Moton Hopkins, and defensive back Alex Suber.

“I’m happy with them because I think they’ve all got great potential and they’ve got great abilities and we have faith in them,” LaPolice said of his youngsters. “Let’s get the lights on and let them go hit the big boys for real on Friday.”

There are 15 starters back from the 2009 team that went 7-11 and missed the playoffs, although a healthy Glenn January would have made it 16.

“If you do a total turnover you lose valuable experience,” LaPolice said.

Seven of the nine new starters have never held down full-time No. 1 jobs in the CFL, with starting quarterback Buck Pierce and cornerback LaVar Glover the exceptions.

“We got depth at the quarterback position, which is one of the areas we wanted to do,” LaPolice said. “We’ve got a good mixture of young and old players. We have a group of guys that are hungry to compete and play hard. It’s a good unit.”

As for other starting positions, LaPolice said Dorian Smith returns to his defensive tackle spot beside Brown, while the halfback and kickoff return spots are still up in the air.

QUIET DAY: The Bombers did all of their roster purging on Wednesday, so all they did on cutdown day was move three players — receiver Jabari Arthur, offensive lineman Ryan Donnelly and defensive back Clint Kent — to the one-game-injured list. That means they won’t be available for the season-opener.

Winnipeg also placed import offensive lineman Carlton Medder on the disabled list. He hasn’t officially been signed by the club yet.

The coaching staff has asked a few of this week’s cuts to remain on the practice roster, which will be announced on Friday.

BIG COUNTRY’S REVENGE? Derick Armstrong has cracked the Lions roster and can’t wait to face the Bombers following his release last July.

Even though Mike Kelly, the man he clashed with, is gone, he is still peeved at the organization.

“I don’t think they stood up for me the way they should have,” Armstrong told reporters on Thursday.

The Bombers and Lions have back-to-back games against one another in October.

“I have them marked on my calendar,” he said. “It’s going to be one of those things to show them they gave up too soon.”

LATE HITS: Notable cuts around the league included fullback Lyle Green in B.C., quarterback Zac Champion in Calgary and Winnipeg native Eddie Steele in Hamilton. Steele will return to the Manitoba Bisons … LaPolice said running back Emmanuel Marc, whom the Bombers cut earlier this week, has resurfaced with the Lions … The Tiger-Cats traded for Argos offensive lineman Brian Ramsay Thursday after putting Jason Jimenez on the nine-game injured list with a knee injury. Draft picks went the other way.


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