Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice doesn’t usually single out players for criticism.
That’s why he raised an eyebrow or two after Thursday’s practice, fingering rookie Perry Floyd as a butterfingered receiver/kick returner.
“He hasn’t played very well when he’s had opportunities, in the fact that he’s fumbled the ball,” LaPolice said. “You can’t be a DI (designated import) returner if you can’t protect the football.”
Apparently, LaPolice had already decided to hand Floyd the pink slip, as less than two hours later the Bombers announced the diminutive speedster had been released.
Looking a lot like former Bomber great Charles Roberts in his jersey No. 1, Floyd (5-foot-5, 168 pounds, Div. II Wingate University) got off to a solid start, piling up 182 return yards, including a 56-yarder, Week 1 against Hamilton.
The North Carolina native’s season totals include a team-high 346 yards on 19 kickoff returns (18.2 average), 66 yards on six punt returns (11.0) and two receptions for 28 yards.
He was also charged with three fumbles.
It appears those will likely be his career numbers, too.
Joining Floyd on the lonely trip to the airport was import running back Mike McLendon, who was brought in five weeks ago but never made it off the practice roster.
GRIN AND BEAR IT: LaPolice made official what had become apparent earlier in the week: that veteran Doug Brown would miss his second straight game in Vancouver, Saturday, due to a foot injury.
Asked about the effect of losing the perennial all-star, along with fellow tackle Dorian Smith, and the coach went into full positive spin mode, claiming he was “excited.”
“There’s no other way to feel,” LaPolice said. “You don’t worry about those things. This team has done a good job — when somebody gets hurt, somebody steps up to make a play. We’re hoping our guys will do that.”
At the same time, LaPolice said he expects the Lions to go after the middle of his D-line.
“I would think you would try to see if you can establish the run to help you with your play-actions and all those other things on first and 10, to keep you multidimensional,” the coach predicted.
“So we’ll have to make sure we can still stop the run, do our best to make them one-dimensional.”
BYE-WEEK BLUES? With players and coaches scattering for the bye week following Saturday’s game, keeping everybody focused on the task at hand has been a daily part of LaPolice’s focus.
“I started that process last week, and it was Day 1,” he said.
“We’re on a business trip. We wanted to have all our travel done early, so we could be focused on football, and they got that message, that it’s there to go get your two points and then you can relax.”