Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

411: Centres of attention

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CALGARY -- Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea says rookie offensive lineman Matthias Goossen will get a long, hard look at centre today when the Bombers take on the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium.

O'Shea said Friday Goossen won't be the only centre the Bombers use today -- veteran Steve Morley will be the other -- and a depth chart the club sent out on Friday was in error when it listed Goossen, who the club drafted second overall last month, as the only centre for today's game.

"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 to 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 whoever the Bombers took with the second-overall pick would be expected to start immediately. So far Morley has been getting most of the first-team reps at centre, with the coaching staff bringing Goossen along more slowly.

It's not clear how long Willy will play today in a game that has the weird quirk of being Winnipeg's final pre-season contest and 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 Friday 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."

 

LABOUR PAINS IN PAST

 

O'Shea reacted with relief Friday to news the CFL and its players association had 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."

Stamps management and players -- including slotback Nik Lewis, who was very loud on Twitter with his criticism of the deal -- were also showing a unified front Friday.

"We can disagree on a lot of things," said Lewis. "But that doesn't matter once we step on the field together."

Calgary head coach and GM John Hufnagel said he was unconcerned about any lingering hangover in a Stamps locker-room, which seemed particularly divided about the new CBA. "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.

 

WESTERN WELCOME

 

Hufnagel -- a longtime West Division veteran as a player and coach -- was asked if he was happy about Winnipeg's return to the West Division this season.

"Yeah, I am. It's where they belong," said Hufnagel, before pausing and adding with a grin: "How do they feel?"

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 14, 2014 C3

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