Bombers rookie Muamba poised to make debut

Henoc Muamba works Bombers rookie camp at the University of Manitoba on June 1, 2011. (Marcel...

Henoc Muamba works Bombers rookie camp at the University of Manitoba on June 1, 2011. (Marcel Cretain/QMI Agency)

Kirk Penton, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:15 PM ET

It’s possible first overall draft pick Henoc Muamba will be ready to make his CFL debut after the bye week.

 

The rookie Bombers linebacker injured his knee in the first quarter of the pre-season opener in Montreal on June 16 and hasn’t played since. He finally returned to the practice field last week.

If all is well when the Bombers return to practice next week, the St. Francis-Xavier product could be in the lineup on Aug. 26 when Winnipeg hosts Hamilton.

“He felt better every day and was getting the soreness out, so maybe,” head coach Paul LaPolice said Monday. “We’ll see where he’s at this week, and with another bye week hopefully he comes back (at) full (health) and ready to get back on the roster.”

LaPolice said there’s a chance defensive tackle Doug Brown (foot) will return to the lineup after missing two games, but D-lineman Dorian Smith (ankle) is unlikely to suit up against the Tabbies.

Receiver Kito Poblah, who tore a posterior cruciate ligament in the first game of the season, is close to full health, but LaPolice said they’ll still have to evaluate him next week. Poblah is on the nine-game injured list, but each CFL team can take one player off it in each half of the season.

Poblah is eligible to return on Sept. 18 when the Bombers visit Montreal.

FINALLY: Pierre-Luc Labbe was starting to wonder if it was him.

The fourth-year Bomber linebacker had never won a lot in his football career. He didn’t have a winning season in his four years at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, and his first three years with the Bombers featured more losses than victories.

This year the sixth-round draft pick in the 2008 CFL draft is enjoying his job like he never has before, as a special teamer and backup linebacker with the 6-1 Bombers.

“It’s been a while since I won some games. I was wondering if I was the problem,” Labbe said with a laugh. “I realize that it’s not. It’s amazing to win. We’re 6-1 right now, and we’ve won two more games than last year. It’s amazing to go into the bye week with a 6-1 record.”

Labbe is one of five Bombers who joined the team in 2008 and had to endure 8-10, 7-11 and 4-14 records in successive seasons. That’s what makes this year even sweeter for Labbe, Brendon LaBatte, Aaron Hargreaves, Joe Lobendahn and Jovon Johnson.

“I thought it would’ve come a long time ago,” Johnson said of his team’s current success. “Just some of the teams that we had could’ve been so much more successful than our record showed, but that’s part of the game.”

SOMETHING TO PROVE? Do the Bombers still have to beat the Montreal Alouettes before they can lay claim to the “best team in the CFL” label?

More than a few people think so.

“That’s always going to be the case,” Johnson said. “When Montreal’s the defending Grey Cup champion, everybody’s going to say they haven’t played Montreal yet.

“Until we do, I don’t think anybody will give us respect, but it is what it is, and we’ll look forward to playing them when the time comes around.”

 


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