LEARNING ON THE JOB
For those wondering why the Bombers are moving the 2011 Most Outstanding Defensive Player out of his old position and into a new one: Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Defensive back Jovon Johnson gets his turns at strong-side linebacker (SAM) when the last-place Blue and Gold host the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the ninth annual Banjo Bowl at Canad Inns Stadium Sunday (noon). The 5-9, 182-pound Johnson replaces Brandon Stewart, who's struggled since returning from injury two games ago. In a secondary shuffle that underlines the Bombers defensive issues through this 2-7 campaign, Stewart moves to cornerback, with Demond Washington switching over to Johnson's spot.
Jonathan Hefney has also taken his turns at the SAM position this season.
Johnson, who filled in admirably at safety when Ian Logan was hurt for the 2011 finale against Calgary, says the tricky part about playing SAM involves the height of the linemen in front of him.
"The toughest thing is just seeing the adjustments (in the offence)," he said, speaking of the difficulties he might have seeing over the line of scrimmage into the offensive backfield. "I'm kind of smaller, so to see if there are two backs or three receivers is tough. I have to pay more attention to the coach on the sidelines for some guidance there. That's the main adjustment for me."
The simple act of moving closer to the football gets a player more action, but Johnson understands he could be extra busy as the Riders (4-5) will probably target him in the new spot Sunday afternoon.
"I don't expect them to come after me, but I'm sure they'll have a couple wrinkles to try and take advantage of my aggressive style," he said. "We'll see what happens."
With rookie Jordan Taormina (stinger) out, the Bombers turn to fellow import Shannon Boatman to take up the right tackle spot on the O-line. That's right, the Bombers are now down to the backup's backup. Boatman hasn't played since he started five games with the Toronto Argonauts in 2010.
"It's not easy at all," he said, when asked about drawing into a lineup that lost 52-0 the week before. "There's going to be a lot of eyes on us," Boatman said. "I'm pretty sure people are going to be critical of everything that happens."
The Bombers also confirmed that left guard Steve Morley (ankle) will be ready to play. No other roster changes are expected for Winnipeg.