Jobs with Bombers up for grabs

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Most of the starting spots are spoken for, but there is still plenty to be decided in Bomber camp.

A handful of No. 1 roles, not to mention almost all of the backup jobs, could still go a variety of ways. Thursday’s pre-season opener in Montreal against the Alouettes will go a long way in those decisions being made.

Here’s a closer look at some of the starting jobs that are still up for grabs on the 2011 edition of the Blue and Gold.

RIGHT TACKLE

Glenn January and Kelly Butler are the main combatants, with Marlon Winn also in the running to play opposite left tackle Andre Douglas.

January missed all of last season with a torn pectoral muscle, and he will also miss Thursday’s game with a groin injury. In other words, he has never played a full game for the current regime.

Since Douglas is being left at home, Butler and Winn should play most of the game against the Als.

CENTRE/LEFT GUARD

Brendon LaBatte will get the start at centre in place of the injured Obby Khan, while second-year player Chris Greaves will line up in LaBatte’s left guard spot.

When you consider GM Joe Mack’s propensity to go young, it would not be surprising if he went with the LaBatte-Greaves combo over the Khan-LaBatte duo.

CANADIAN WIDE RECEIVER

This is a unique battle when you consider two frontrunners for the spot — Aaron Hargreaves and Kito Poblah — won’t play against the Alouettes due to injuries.

That gives first-round draft pick Jade Etienne, second-year receiver Josh Bishop and CFL veteran David McKoy glorious opportunities to make the brass forget about the players at home.

It will be interesting to see how Etienne, who has had a tough time getting used to the pro game in practice, performs in his professional debut.

Cory Watson, who likely has one of the two starting spots sewn up, will also play against the Alouettes.

CORNERBACK

Deon Beasley is the incumbent, but Johnny Sears has been a training camp star. Both will play on Thursday, with Sears suiting up in Jonathan Hefney’s halfback spot.

OTHER SPOTS TO WATCH

Rico McCoy, who is trying to unseat Joe Lobendahn, will get the start at middle linebacker … Perry Floyd, another camp sensation, will start in the receiving corps and also get a chance to return kicks, along with Alex Watson, Chris Garrett and maybe Johnny Sears … First overall draft pick Henoc Muamba will make his pro debut on special teams but also get some reps at linebacker.

BLUE NOTE: Winnipeg defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke is looking forward to getting his homecoming out of the way.

Burke spent the last three seasons in Montreal as the Alouettes defensive co-ordinator, winning the Grey Cup the last two seasons.

“I’m glad it’s the pre-season that I’m going back, because once we get into the season then it’s not going to be a big deal,” Burke said.

“It’ll be good to get it out of the way, plus I’ll get my Grey Cup ring.”

— With files from Ken Wiebe


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