Bombers end not on the defensive

Kirk Penton, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Jason Vega hopes good things are Bruin.

If last week was a sign of things to come, he may be in luck.

Not only did the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive end hopeful have a decent showing against the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday, but his beloved Boston Bruins captured the Stanley Cup, too.

Vega was born in Boston and grew up in nearby Brockton, Mass., so when the Bruins were battling the Vancouver Canucks he dashed to his hotel room as soon as evening meetings concluded.

“I haven’t been one of those diehards from, like, ’87 when I was born, but in the last couple years I’ve picked it up,” Vega said.

He’s also trying to pick up the Bomber playbook as quickly as possible, because he is one of three or four contenders vying for the starting defensive end spot vacated by last year’s CFL rush king, Phillip Hunt.

Remond Willis, Kenny Mainor and Fernand Kashama are also in the running, head coach Paul LaPolice said.

The 6-foot-4, 255-pound lineman didn’t stand out against the Alouettes, notching a pair of tackles and getting a bit of pressure on the quarterback, but he didn’t take himself out of the race, either. Sunday’s practice was another learning experience, as linebackers coach Casey Creehan, who is also in charge of the defensive ends, was in a particularly vocal mood and Vega was his target at least once.

“I’ve gotten my fair share, we could say that,” Vega said of the constructive criticism Creehan is known to dish out. “We’ve gotten to know each other well.”

Vega, who played at Boston’s Northeastern University, was an outside linebacker in college, and his new role with the Bombers includes dropping into coverage, so he’s not completely unfamiliar with the role he’s pursuing. “It puts me more in my element, I guess,” he said.

The fact he tried out for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last year also gives him a bit of an edge in the competition, which will be on full display Thursday night when the Bombers battle the Toronto Argos in their pre-season finale.

“It helped me a lot being more familiar with the game, but a lot of the techniques, a lot of the things that we’re doing here, are different,” he said. “So it’s almost like losing habits and trying to learn new things, but I think it’s going pretty well.”

Vega proved he has a brain cell or two when deciding whom to trash talk after the Bruins hoisted Lord Stanley’s mug on Wednesday night.

“Doug Brown’s one of the Vancouver fans,” Vega said with a smile, “so I try not to throw it in his face.”


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