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A Look at Spring Training

Posted By Jim Penner On Jun 20 2010 @ 8:00 am In Winnipeg Blue Bombers | 1 Comment

Hi, my name is Jim, a.k.a. Hobbes and I’m going to be your Winnipeg Blue Bombers blogger for http://www.prosportsblogging.com [1].

Halfway through training camp and it’s very different from a year ago.  In 2009 Mike Kelly was enthusiastically leading the charges with his bombastic approach to every confrontation both minor and major.  This time around Paul Lapolice who took over as coach in late January, has laid down a much quieter approach to training camp.  Coach Lapo, as he’s quickly becoming known as, has the troops practicing hard and playing even harder if the 34-10 score over the Montreal Alouettes in the first pre-season game is any indication.  However, as Coach Lapo pointed out, there were 3rd stringers inside the uniforms of the 2009 Grey Cup champions.  Hopefully, today’s second game against Hamilton will provide a better idea of what is in store for the 2010 season in Winnipeg.

As for position battles, it will surprise no one when Buck Pierce is anointed as the starting QB.  Steven Jyles had better be ready to step in at a moment’s notice if Pierce’s historical reputation of being unable to play all 18 games in a season comes into play.

The O-line should see a new face in Kelly Butler, a man-beast with NFL experience.  He’s become the import who will play on the O-Line in light of Glenn January’s torn pectoral muscle.  January is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.

At receiver we should see a new face take over for the Dallas departed Titus Ryan.  Who it will be is anyone’s guess, but I’d think that former Ti-cat Chris Davis and rookie Terence Jeffers-Harris have the inside track to start the season.

Defense has seen a huge changeover from the starting defense from the 2009 opening game, but maybe it won’t be as big a change in the front 7 as the only starter not back from game 18 of last year is Siddeq Shabbazz.  Marcellus Bowman played well in the weakside LB position against the Allouettes but has by no means locked up the position.

It’s in the secondary where the Bombers will see the greatest change.  Only Jovon Johnson and Ian Logan will return in the positions they played in last year.  LaVar Glover has the most experience of those trying to win the CB position opposite Johnson.  Keyuo Craver who played CB last year is trying to move inside to halfback.  Competition for the halfback position has been heated with several new comers stepping up, but you’d have to think that the Bombers secretly hope that Jonathon Heffney gets cut from the Detroit Lions soon.

The kicking team of Alexis Serna and Mike Renaud will be back to follow up on an 81% field goal kicking average and a 41.0 yards per punt average, but the team is looking at new bodies to replace Johnson on the return team.  Johnson is too valuable a CB to lose to injury on the kick return team.

As for Canadians, we’ll likely see some younger blood take over on the special team units as the last two drafts have yielded a couple of hunt and destroy LBs in Chris Smith and Thaine Carter.

It’s a great time of year when everyone’s chance of winning the Grey Cup is just as equal as every other teams ……. In theory.  Here in Winnipeg, we’re excited about watching a competitive team that can score.  We’d be disappointed if we didn’t get to the playoffs this year and who knows…… maybe a trip to the 98th Grey Cup is on the agenda for this year.

Over and out from the Peg.

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