CALGARY — Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea says rookie offensive lineman Matthias Goossen will get a long hard look at centre here Saturday night when the Bombers take on the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium.
But O’Shea said at a downtown hotel today that Goossen won’t be the only centre the Bombers use tomorrow -- veteran Steve Morley will be the other -- and a depth chart the club sent out earlier in the day was in error when it listed Goossen as the only centre for Saturday’s final pre-season game for the Bombers.
"He shouldn’t be the only one listed on the depth chart at centre. Morley will play centre too," said O’Shea.
"Goossen is going to get a fair shot. They’re not going to be equal repetitions, but they are going to be fair repetitions that are going allow us to evaluate them... The answer is not cut and dried. It will depend on the flow of the game and (starting QB) Drew Willy and how long he stays in the game."
Prior to last month’s CFL draft, Bombers GM Kyle Walters was adamant that whoever the Bombers took with the second overall pick would be expected to start immediately for the Bombers this season. But so far it’s been Morley who has been getting most of the first teams reps at centre, with the coaching staff bringing Goossen -- the man the Bombers took with the second pick -- along more slowly.
It’s not clear how long Willy will play tomorrow in a game that has the weird quirk of being Winnipeg’s final pre-season contest but Calgary’s first. The Bombers opened the pre-season for the entire CFL last Monday with a 24-22 loss to the Toronto Argonauts at home.
"I’d like to play the whole thing if I was allowed to," Willy said here this afternoon shortly after his club arrived. "Every football player wants to play. That’s up to coach. I’m not sure exactly how much time -- at least a quarter, maybe a half."
Meanwhile, O’Shea reacted with relief here this afternoon to the news the CFL and its players association have now ratified a new collective bargaining agreement. "I’m happy both sides got it done. I really am," said O’Shea. "I think there was a little bit of posturing in terms of how much it weighed on everybody... It’s good that it’s done. Let’s go, let’s play football and remove that from the top of every conversation."
Among the players not making the trip for the Bombers here this weekend are DB Donovan Alexander, DB Johnnie Sears, SB Nick Moore, SB Cory Watson, RB Will Ford and RB Carl Volny.
Bombers to play 'unified' Calgary Stamps after CFL deal ratified
CALGARY -- It was the morning after the ratification of the night before and the players and management of the Calgary Stampeders were both talking about leaving the contentious past behind and moving forward.
The Stamps held a light practice at McMahon Stadium Friday morning in advance of hosting the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a pre-season tilt here Saturday evening, but the subject on everyone’s mind this morning was still the news from Thursday night that the CFLPA had voted to ratify a new five-year collective bargaining agreement with the league.
Stamps head coach and GM John Hufnagel was asked how he keeps his locker room -- which had several players that were particularly vocal in their dislike of the new deal -- unified now that the majority of players have voted to ratify the new deal.
"They’ve been together ever since they came to training camp. I’m just glad the decision was made. And I don’t believe it will be a problem," said Hufnagel.
CFL owners are voting today on the new deal and are expected to ratify it unanimously.
Stamps slotback Nik Lewis, who was among the most vocal dissenters on Twitter, said his locker room is united and always has been.
"We can disagree on a lot of things," said Lewis. "Everyone doesn’t like the same movies, everyone doesn’t like the same people. But that doesn’t matter once we step on the field together.
"I never felt like we weren’t unified. Even through it all, we were all unified...There’s guys that liked it and there’s guys that didn’t. And that’s okay."
The Bombers are flying to Calgary this morning, but will not practice.
The Stampeders have a legitimate battle going on in training camp over who will be their starting quarterback in the regular season -- Drew Tate or Bo Levi Mitchell.
Both men will see action against the Bombers on Saturday and Hufnagel was asked if one has the advantage over the other right now. "I can’t say that," said Hufnagel. "It’s very close."