Of the seven new players the Blue Bombers have brought in this week, most, head coach Tim Burke agreed, are battling to make an impression for an invite back next year.
But there are a few newcomers that could have a chance to make their mark before this season is done. Among them are running back Mario Fannin and defensive end Greg Briggs, who joined the team on Tuesday, though Burke noted he hadn’t seen enough of today’s five arrivals to judge. "Those two guys, they just really stuck out," he said. "I liked what I saw from Briggs, but then after I watched film I liked him even more."
Hey, whatever will help the Bombers win in the punishing West, where they’ll move next season as the Ottawa Redblacks come into the league in the East. The Bombers have a lousy track record against Western teams – for instance, they haven’t won in Calgary since 2002 – a fact that Burke chalked up to added physicality.
"I don’t know what it is, it’s just hard to win out West," he said. "The Western teams are traditionally stronger than the Eastern… but the other thing is that once you get into the West, and you’re playing those teams more often, you’re more familiar with them. I think the West tends to be a more physical division as well… you adapt your game accordingly, too."
On the injury line: Renaissance defenceman Jovon Johnson should be back in game action against the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday, after being banged up and kept out of Tuesday and today’s practices. Defensive back Demond Washington will not play, and his position could be taken by Johnny Sears, who is coming back from his own injury. That also depends on some salary cap concerns, Burke said.
Slotback Terrence Edwards will likely be out with a neck strain, although he haphazardly practiced on Tuesday and today. If he isn’t able to play, the Bombers will give Wallace Miles his first chance to see some game action. "He’s a really good route-runner," Burke said of Miles. "He’s kind of a cerebral player, he’s got good quickness so we’re hoping that if he plays he can beat man coverage."
While fans have been clamouring to see former NFLer Mike Sims-Walker, who has yet to take a catch in a game, Burke noted that Sims-Walker – who is a back-up at wideout – wasn’t yet familiar enough with the plays in Edwards’ position.
The Bombers also released kicker Brody McKnight from the practice roster today, despite earlier showing interest in developing McKnight as a long-term project. That move was made to open some more practice roster space, Burke said, and noted there was "a good chance" the Bombers may bring him back at some point down the line.
Bombers add five new players, let McKnight go
The Blue Bombers added five more players to their ranks today, as they expanded their roster heading into the home stretch of the CFL season.
They also let one prospect go, Canadian kicker Brody McKnight, who joined the team earlier in this season and worked on the practice roster.
Among the new additions, all imports, are offensive lineman Shea Allard, wide receiver Jheranie Boyd, linebacker Taylor Reed, defensive back Semaj Moody and defensive end Jake Killeen.
Allard, a 6’5" University of Delaware alumnus, was signed by the Green Bay Packers twice – once in May 2012 as an undrafted free agent, though he was released at the end of August, and then again in December of last year where he played on the practice squad.
Boyd is a 6’2", 23-year-old receiver who played four years with the University of North Carolina, during which he caught 44 passes for 860 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also rushed for 240 yards and another major. Boyd was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in May of this year, and was released in June. He was picked up by Cincinnati but released before the NFL season started.
Linebacker Reed also flirted with the NFL, having been signed by the Dallas Cowboys in May but released in August at the end of training camp. He worked out with the New England Patriots but didn’t get a deal. The 6’, 22-year-old linebacker just wrapped up four years at Southern Methodist University.
Moody, 25, was undrafted by the NFL in 2012, and joined the Arena Football League’s Chicago Rush, where he led the team in tackles with 86.5 in 18 games, as well as making three picks. He signed with Kansas City in August but was released after training camp.
Finally, Killeen is a minor-pro vet who played with the IFL’s Green Bay Blizzard, West Michigan Thunderhawks and Tri-Cities Fever, the latter team where he led in sacks in 2012. He also played in the AFL before being signed in January 2013 with the Indianapolis Colts, but was released in May.