Release of Hefney a hot topic of conversation for Blue Bombers

Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive back Jonathan Hefney. (Winnipeg Sun files)

Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive back Jonathan Hefney. (Winnipeg Sun files)

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:18 AM ET

WINNIPEG - The release of veteran defensive back Jonathan Hefney literally has several members of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers scratching their heads.

Hefney, a two-time CFL All-Star, was released by the Blue Bombers on Saturday afternoon, just days after charges for possession of marijuana in South Carolina came to light.

“I’m still doing it. I’m scratching my head, man,” said Blue Bombers defensive back Johnny Sears.

Veteran receiver Terrence Edwards, a key member of the leadership core, didn’t expect the move to be made.

“It was shocking and surprising but I’ve been in this business 11 years and I’ve seen it all,” said Edwards. “Jonathan is a great football player, a great guy, despite what people may think of him who don’t know him. He’s a good dude. We’re going to miss him.

“We’re going to miss his fire, we’re going to miss his energy. But we know we’ve got to move forward. Players play, coaches coach and GMs GM. We’ve got to control what we control and that’s how we play on the field and don’t let this hinder us.”

Fellow defensive back Jovon Johnson tried to bite his tongue when asked about Hefney.

“I don’t really have a reaction. The only thing I can do is control what I can control and go out and play football and go out and do what I do and lead this group of defensive backs,” said Johnson.

“This is a business and I’m sure Jonathan understands that. Things happen for a variety of reasons, whatever the case may be. I’m sure he’ll bounce back, he’ll land somewhere and he’ll be the same player we know he can be.”

Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke said it was ultimately his decision — and not Joe Mack’s — to release Hefney, though the general manager said he would support him in whatever he wanted to do.

“The decision to release Jonathan was based on several aspects, but primarily it was performance-based,” said Burke. “We just didn’t feel like he could perform some of the tasks necessary to be a halfback in this league that fit in our our defence. That was the biggest factor.”

The Blue Bombers asked Hefney about moving to the nickelback (formerly known as the SAM linebacker) position again this season, but Hefney’s preference is to play halfback.

Burke is among those who believe Hefney will catch on with another CFL club, but that didn’t sway his decision.

Second-year Blue Bomber Demond Washington is the front-runner to replace Hefney in the secondary and said he’s going to work hard to nail down the starting job.

“Jonathan is a great guy and I’m sad to see him go but opportunity strikes and I’ve got to go in and get the job done,” said Washington, noting that Hefney was one of the guys who helped him adjust to the CFL game. “I’ve got to just come out and work hard.”

Sears and veteran receiver Edwards were involved in practice for the first time in training camp after dealing with off-season injuries that required surgery.

Both men reported they were feeling good, though Sears essentially ruled himself out from being back in time for the CFL season opener against the Montreal Alouettes on June 27.

Edwards is tracking to be ready for the opener and Burke isn’t ready to rule Sears out just yet.

“It will either be for the first game or the second,” said Burke.

Aside from Sears and Edwards returning, running back Chris Garrett was back on the field after suffering an ankle injury during Saturday’s session.

Offensive tackle Glenn January, receivers Kito Poblah, Kurt Adams, Isaac Anderson, Rory Kohlert, Jameze Massey, Taylor Renaud and Wallace Miles, linebackers Henoc Muamba and Rene Stephan, defensive back Jeremy McGee and defensive lineman Dexter Davis were all sidelined with various ailments.


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