Distraction departs Bombers

Winnipeg Blue Bomber #14 Terrence Jeffers-Harris. (QMI Agency)

Winnipeg Blue Bomber #14 Terrence Jeffers-Harris. (QMI Agency)

Kirk Penton, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Terrence Edwards took Terence Jeffers-Harris under his wing from the moment the 21-year-old arrived in Winnipeg last year for Bomber training camp.

They had the same name, they were both from Georgia, and they both had the ability to be game-breaking receivers. Edwards was still giving Jeffers-Harris advice as late as Wednesday, but the damage had already been done.

The Bombers cut Jeffers-Harris on Thursday for violating team rules. Sources said he either missed or was late for two team meetings this week.

“It’s disappointing, but this is a business. It’s pro football. You gotta be a professional, that’s all I can say,” Edwards said. “You gotta be a professional when you’re in professional football.

“I’ve been offering him advice since he got here until as recently as (Wednesday). On the ride back me and him had a heart to heart. I always try to talk to any of the younger guys who want to listen. Milt (Stegall) did the same thing.”

Head coach Paul LaPolice said his team simply could not have the distraction as it prepared to face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Sunday’s East Final.

“At this crucial point in the year, everybody’s focus should be on winning a championship,” LaPolice said.

Attempts to reach Jeffers-Harris on Thursday were unsuccessful, but he is apparently going to release a statement on Friday morning through his agent.

Gil Scott, one of two men who represent Jeffers-Harris, said his client wasn’t “ranting and raving” after his release, which isn’t surprising considering he wasn’t going to play on Sunday anyway and has his sights set firmly on getting an NFL tryout. Jeffers-Harris will, however, miss out on the $3,500 payout each player not on the practice roster receives for getting to the East Final.

“The timing is what it is,” Scott said. “If the head coach makes a decision that he feels is in the best interest (of the team), then that’s what he’s gotta do. We have to react to that and figure out what best we can do for Terence.”

Jeffers-Harris, who had 894 yards and six touchdowns in 19 career games, was slated to become a free agent in February, but there was no way he was coming back to the Bombers after being benched in mid-August. He appeared in the regular-season finale in place of the injured Greg Carr, making one catch for 13 yards and forcing the Bombers to take a timeout when he failed to go on the field with the offence.

Scott said the NFL is still a goal for Jeffers-Harris, who bulked up last winter in an attempt to get drafted by an NFL team and showed up to Bomber training camp still carrying too much of that weight.

“There were a number of teams that we had lined up that we thought were interested last year, and hopefully they still will be this year with his limited playing time this year,” Scott said.

Edwards said he and the Bombers have to move on.

“I wish him well,” Edwards said. “I’m still going to talk to him, still going to be his friend and help him out, but we got a game to play. That’s the least of our worries right now.”

The release of Jeffers-Harris leaves the Bombers with only Kurt Adams as a backup import receiver, and Kito Poblah and Jade Etienne as the Canadian reserves. LaPolice is not concerned about depleting his depth in the pass catching department.

“Nope,” he said. “It’s more important than depth sometimes.”

Gone in a snap

Terence Jeffers-Harris isn’t alone. A look at high-profile trades or releases of Bombers in the last several seasons (even though we saw most of them coming):

— SB Adarius Bowman: released in October 2010; had 1,153 yards for Edmonton this season

—  DB Lenny Walls: released in April 2010; led Bombers with 7 INTs in 2009

—  WR Derick Armstrong: released in July 2010 after refusing to play

— LB Barrin Simpson: released in December 2009; spent last two seasons in Saskatchewan

—  OL Dan Goodspeed: traded to Saskatchewan in April 2009; CFL all-star in ’07 and ’08

— RB Charles Roberts: franchise rushing leader traded to B.C. in September 2008

— K Troy Westwood: released in June 2008 after 18 years with club

n QB Khari Jones: traded to Calgary in September 2004 


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