WINNIPEG - Fernand Kashama is doing his best to prepare for this week just like any other.
The only difference for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive end is that he’s tracking to be in the starting lineup this Thursday at Canad Inns Stadium against the Calgary Stampeders, the team that drafted him back in 2009 and gave him his start in professional football.
While head coach Paul LaPolice wasn’t ready to make the official announcement after Monday’s practice, Kashama took plenty of reps with the first-team defence and defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke suggested he would be getting the nod.
“When you get put in that spotlight, you have to be ready to perform — that’s the kind of business, the kind of sport we’re in,” said Kashama, who was signed as a free agent by the Blue Bombers last October and played four games in 2010. “I’m happy to get the opportunity to go out there and showcase myself and help the team win.
“The way I see it, you should always be prepared, no matter what. I don’t care of your third string, second string, first string, you should always prepare like you’re going in there and starting the game. Your number could be called.”
When starter Jason Vega went down with a knee injury, Kashama came in off the bench and did a nice job, finishing with three tackles.
“I’m happy with it, but I’m always hoping to improve and get better every week,” said Kashama, who spent all of 2009 and part of 2010 with the Stamps before signing with the Bombers. “I’m not going to be content with anything.”
The next man up philosophy has been put to the test a few times through the first two weeks of the CFL season, but the Blue Bombers are handling the early adversity well.
“The thing we preach in the room to every guy and we’ve preached it since Day 1 is that you have to be ready (to play) in the CFL,” said LaPolice. “(Kashama) did a good job, he pushed the pocket, he made some tackles and he was able to respond.”
Import defensive end Kenny Mainor is also likely to be activated this week and he’s excited about his CFL debut.
“I’m very excited. I had fun in the pre-season and we’ll see how it feels in the regular season,” said Mainor. “Just be prepared wherever we need you, that’s what (the coaches) are telling me. I’m anxious and I’m happy.
“Our defence has been playing well. They’re executing and getting to where they need to be. I’m just hoping to be in my spot, if I get my opportunity.”