Bombers' o-line learning on the fly

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:37 PM ET

Steve Morley is adjusting to life on the inside.

He doesn’t view his move from left tackle to right guard as a prison sentence, but the 6-foot-7, 306-pound offensive lineman admits that it is more than just a move three spots down the line.

He has to know all the play calls since he’s working with centre Obby Khan, he’s popping outside to pick up linebackers, and the foot work is vastly different. It’s the first time he’s played right guard as a pro, and he’s learning that it’s no cakewalk.

“It’s a lot more physical than tackle,” Morley said. “Tackle is more finesse and more athleticism. Inside you’re more mauling guys, you’re double-teaming guys, you’re pumping for guys, so it’s definitely a lot more eventful inside.”

The 28-year-old probably would have been content to remain at his natural position of left tackle, but he knew that there was a chance he’d have to move when the Bombers made a regime change in the off-season.

The Nova Scotia native was probably just happy he didn’t have to do his usual post-season routine of going to the grocery store and asking for moving boxes. Morley played for six teams in six years before signing with the Bombers in February 2009. Winnipeg is his fourth CFL stop, but it’s the first time he’s stayed for more than a year.

He started all 18 games in 2009 and didn’t get many complaints about his play, which was rare considering he had never played more than 10 games in a season as a pro prior to last year. He had finally found his football home, which is why he was willing to do whatever it took to remain in Blue and Gold.

“New coaches, so they’re going to want new stuff,” Morley said.

“If it keeps me here, I’ll do whatever they want me to do. I wasn’t upset or anything. I was like, ‘OK, sure. I hope it works out. I don’t have a whole lot of experience.’ ”

The Bomber offensive line, with two new players (imports Andre Douglas and Kelly Butler) and Morley at a new position, has looked like it still needs time to come together. Everything looked good at the start, but the same couldn’t be said after last week’s 28-7 loss to Hamilton.

“I don’t want to make excuses or anything, but there’s a lot of new guys out there,” Morley said. “We’re getting to know each other.

“… I feel like I’m learning, and as each week goes on I’m learning more and more about the system. Like anything, you just need more time to get better at it.”

It won’t get any easier for the O-line this week, as they will be protecting a new quarterback when the Edmonton Eskimos visit on Saturday night. Steven Jyles will make just his second career start in place of the injured Buck Pierce, and the hogs will have to be on their toes.

“There’s a lot of pressure on the O-line no matter who’s starting,” Morley said. “But definitely you want to get used to his cadence and get used to his rhythm. That’s probably the biggest adjustment.”

With files from Jim Bender


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