Bombers' O-line battle heats upImport putting up tough fight to land roster spot
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
|Blue Bombers offensive lineman Jordan Taormina works out during mini-camp at Canad Inns Stadium in Winnipeg, Man., April 27, 2012. (CHRIS PROCAYLO/QMI Agency)
WINNIPEG - Normally when a CFL team starts two import offensive linemen, it likes to keep a third around for insurance purposes.
The Bombers aren’t necessarily going to go down that road this year, as it all depends on the development of two young Canadians: third overall draft pick Tyson Pencer and second-year hog Paul Swiston.
Left tackle Andre Douglas and right tackle Glenn January — both Americans — will begin training camp at the top of the depth chart at their respective positions, leaving the only other import in camp, Jordan Taormina, to try to unseat one of them.
Taormina has been in tough situations before. The 23-year-old from southern California grew up with six siblings, including three older brothers who showed him absolutely no mercy.
“It was always hard growing up,” Taormina said after Thursday’s second rookie camp session at Canad Inns Stadium. “I was always picked on. I have three older brothers that literally would wake me up by slapping me in the face.”
(Considering Taormina is 6-foot-7 and 330 pounds, it’s a little frightening to think how big his brothers must be.)
Taormina didn’t start in high school, so he went the junior college route and walked on at Oklahoma State two years later.
He didn’t start for the Cowboys either, but he was on the field for more than 200 plays in his senior season of 2010. He played earlier this year for the Indoor Football League’s Everett (Wash.) Raptors, and he got kicked out of a game for throwing a punch.
“I do bring an intensity out there on the field,” Taormina said.
“I definitely try to get my teammates going. I always come out here with another mindset, because if you meet me in the locker-room I’m always goofing off and stuff like that. But everything’s serious when I get to the meetings and out here.”
Taormina was solid during one-on-one drills on Thursday, putting up a good fight against defensive lineman from the left tackle position. He will need to keep it up, because he will be competing against Americans and Canadians for the next month.
If Pencer or Swiston can prove they are ready to run with the CFL’s big boys, one of them could serve as the sixth offensive lineman and the other could be on the practice roster. Or one of them could start and the other could serve as the backup.
“If they could maybe be backups this year, then maybe you don’t need an American tackle around in case of an injury,” head coach Paul LaPolice said. “… That’s going to be the competition, part of the process of maybe in a year or so going to four (Canadian) starters.”
LaPolice liked what he saw from Pencer on Thursday, noting the 23-year-old “showed great feet when I watched him in drills, and he’s a physical kid.”
The battle continues Friday morning with the final day of rookie camp.