Charlton cut loose

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

Ike Charlton started getting bad vibes from head coach Paul LaPolice all the way back in February.

On Monday those uneasy feelings turned into harsh reality for the 32-year-old strong-side linebacker when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers cut him after five seasons with the club.

"I was pretty pissed off about it," Charlton said of his reaction when he got the news. "We talk a lot about trust around here, and to be honest with you it's a tough situation right now. I'm going to wait to say what I really want to say, because I'm not that type of person. I don't want to try to cause any confrontation, so I don't want to do all that."

Charlton's release came two days after he was often seen in pursuit mode trying to chase down Stampeders slotback Nik Lewis in Calgary's 23-20 victory at McMahon Stadium. Lewis finished with 10 catches for 160 yards.

LaPolice said it wasn't just Charlton's performance in Saturday's game that led to his release.

"Over the course of the last five or six games, we think we need a better coverage player there," LaPolice said. "Ike is one of the veterans that when we got here we wanted to keep. I appreciate everything he did for us. He's a good man. He's a good pro. This is just not an easy business. It wasn't an easy decision for any of us.

"My responsibility is not to do the easiest thing. My responsibility is to do what's best for the club and the organization and for the team going forward."

Clint Kent and Bernard Hicks will battle it out in practice this week for the right to replace Charlton in the linebacking corps on Saturday in Hamilton against the Tiger-Cats (1-4).

Kent has started in the secondary and has become a valuable cover man on special teams, while Hicks has practised behind Charlton almost exclusively at strong-side linebacker since training camp began.

Rumour has it Charlton, one of the longest-serving members of the team, wanted assurances before the season that he wasn't going be cut along with many of the other Bomber vets who were getting whacked in GM Joe Mack's youth movement.

Charlton apparently was told everything would be fine, but he still felt, based on his first conversation with LaPolice, that he wasn't exactly a stable member of the squad.

"Right then I knew, in February, that I had to be great to stay here because of his feelings, how he felt. Which is cool," Charlton said. "But if you want to turn on the film, and you watch me play against Saskatchewan, where he was at (last year), the production don't lie. The eye in the sky don't lie."

Charlton, who was making approximately $85,000 per season, downplayed his performance against the Stamps, noting that he chased Lewis down on the latter's 64-yard catch in the first quarter and claimed he hasn't been responsible for an opponent's touchdown this season.

"OK, a guy caught a pass on me. It happens. It's football," Charlton said. "... You play 60 minutes in a game. Eight-, nine-, 10-time Pro Bowlers make two or three mistakes over the course of a game, but they make a play to make up for it and you continue to work hard and you go from there. I guess (LaPolice) don't see that."

LaPolice said that wasn't the case.

"We're not making a knee-jerk reaction of (Saturday's) game," he said.

Charlton leads the Bombers with 22 tackles, which isn't necessarily a good thing when you're mostly a cover linebacker.

The Orlando native, who now calls Cleveland home, joined the Bombers late in the 2005 season after four seasons in the CFL and was away for only the start of the 2007 campaign when he tried out for the NFL's Detroit Lions. The Lions cut him in September of that year, and he rejoined the Bombers for their run to the 2007 Grey Cup game.

In 60 regular-season contests with the Bombers, Charlton had one interception, 225 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, five forced fumbles, four sacks, six fumble recoveries and 15 pass knockdowns.


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