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Bombers exit stadium, some for last time

Posted: 11/3/2013 2:53 PM | Comments: 0

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The Winnipeg Blue Bombers players emptied their lockers at Investors Group Field Sunday morning, many of them for the final time.

With the club now done for the season after a 37-7 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at IGF on Saturday, players loaded their gear into garbage bags Sunday and began to head out for the four corners of the continent.

With widespread and systemic exchange expected this winter for a Bombers team that tied a franchise record for futility with a 3-15 record in 2013, the finality of a season prematurely ended was mixed with anxiety and uncertainty about the future as players said their goodbyes.

"Change is inevitable," said offensive tackle Glenn January. "Something’s going to have to happen with us to right the ship and it still remains to be seen what the solution is."

January, who has morphed into one of the undisputed leaders in the Bombers locker-room, said the mood on Sunday was "a mixed bag. You have some guys who are just happy to be out of here. And you have some guys that are still a bit despondent and upset with the outcome of the season.

"However you want to read into that, I think that could be the story of the season in itself."

One of the areas of the Bombers many think needs to be improved next season is the team’s offensive line, which gave up far too many sacks this season and had difficulty developing a sustained running game.

But January thinks his unit has been unfairly tarnished.

"If you look statistically across the league, I think there’s a lot of offensive lines get a free pass. If you look at our numbers compared to even our most recent opponent Hamilton, the number of sacks and hits they give up with a veteran quarterback who has a quick release is even more than we have. So I don’t know how they’re juggernauts and we’re terrible. You have to actually boil it down and look at what the numbers say.

"Obviously we’re not happy with how our season went and we can be better. But this whole sense we’re the worst in the league is complete nonsense."

Hamilton gave up a league-worst 65 sacks this season, while Winnipeg gave up 50, which was sixth in the league.

x x x

Veteran guard Steve Morley is one of Winnipeg’s 22 potential free agents this winter.

Morley missed the only starts of an otherwise uninterrupted five-year career with the Bombers in 2013 due to a knee injury and there was a feeling among the coaching staff even before the injury that the former NFLer’s play had begun to tail off.

So, will he be back in 2014?

"That’d be nice. I love it here and love the city," said Morley. "But we’ll see what happens. There’s going to be a lot of changes."

x x x

Bombers starting QB Max Hall didn’t have his best game against Hamilton, but he generally showed improvement during the final six weeks of the season and, if nothing else, proved himself the toughest and most durable quarterback the Bombers have had in recent memory.

Hall once again took some hellacious hits against the Ticats and was asked Sunday if the toughness he showed in the late-goings of this season, combined with the steady improvement, warranted a return invite to training camp next year.

"I try to stay in there, man. I feel like I’m pretty resilient and can play through pain," said Hall. "I think I grew as a quarterback in this league and showed that I can lead this team... I think I’m very capable of being a starter if that’s the route they decide to go. But that’s not my decision. If they decide to try bring someone else in, hopefully I’m still here and it’s a guy I can learn from and just keep getting better."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

  • Fans take in the final Winnipeg Blue Bombers game of the season at Investors Group Field.

    David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press

    Fans take in the final Winnipeg Blue Bombers game of the season at Investors Group Field.

  • Ticats' quarterback Henry Burris is taken down by Jovon Johnson in the first quarter.

    Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press

    Ticats' quarterback Henry Burris is taken down by Jovon Johnson in the first quarter.

  • Bombers quarterback Max Hall gets rid of the ball just before he is taken down by Brandon Boudreaux of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the first quarter.

    Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press

    Bombers quarterback Max Hall gets rid of the ball just before he is taken down by Brandon Boudreaux of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the first quarter.

  • Ticats back up quarterback Dan LeFevour passes over the end-zone line among a mass of players. A penalty was called on the Ticats, but they scored on the next play.

    Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press

    Ticats back up quarterback Dan LeFevour passes over the end-zone line among a mass of players. A penalty was called on the Ticats, but they scored on the next play.

  • The Winnipeg Blue Bombers Brandon Stewart (8) attempts to take down Hamilton Tiger-Cats Onrea Jones (89) Saturday afternoon at Investors Group Field.

    David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press

    The Winnipeg Blue Bombers Brandon Stewart (8) attempts to take down Hamilton Tiger-Cats Onrea Jones (89) Saturday afternoon at Investors Group Field.

  • The Winnipeg Blue Bombers Mario Fannin (#32) is taken down by Hamilton Tiger-Cats Onrea Jones (89).

    David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Blue Bombers

    The Winnipeg Blue Bombers Mario Fannin (#32) is taken down by Hamilton Tiger-Cats Onrea Jones (89).

  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Wallace Miles (84) hauls a pass in as Dee Webb of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats reaches for the ball during the second half.

    Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press

    Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Wallace Miles (84) hauls a pass in as Dee Webb of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats reaches for the ball during the second half.

  • Ticats wide receiver Onrea Jones scores a touchdown as Demond Washington of the Bombers comes crashing down behind him during the second quarter.

    Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press

    Ticats wide receiver Onrea Jones scores a touchdown as Demond Washington of the Bombers comes crashing down behind him during the second quarter.

  • Winnipeg football fans watch the game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the second half of CFL action in Winnipeg Saturday, November 2, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade

    CP

    Winnipeg football fans watch the game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the second half of CFL action in Winnipeg Saturday, November 2, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade

  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke.

    David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press

    Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke.

  • Hamilton Tiger-Cats' Arthur Hobbs (24) breaks up the pass in the end zone intended for Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Clarence Denmark (89) during the second half.

    Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press

    Hamilton Tiger-Cats' Arthur Hobbs (24) breaks up the pass in the end zone intended for Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Clarence Denmark (89) during the second half.

  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Max Hall (15) makes a pass against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the second half.

    Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press

    Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Max Hall (15) makes a pass against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the second half.

  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Rory Kohlert (87) is tackled by Hamilton Tiger-Cats Ray Shipman (42) and Arthur Hobbs (24) during the second half.

    Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press

    Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Rory Kohlert (87) is tackled by Hamilton Tiger-Cats Ray Shipman (42) and Arthur Hobbs (24) during the second half.

  • The Winnipeg Blue Bombers look dejected during the final moments of Saturday afternoon's game.

    David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press

    The Winnipeg Blue Bombers look dejected during the final moments of Saturday afternoon's game.

  • Jovon Johnson (#2) looks dejected during the final moments of the game.

    David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press

    Jovon Johnson (#2) looks dejected during the final moments of the game.

  • Bombers' head coach Tim Burke looks on near the end of another Blue Bombers loss at Investors Group Field.

    Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press

    Bombers' head coach Tim Burke looks on near the end of another Blue Bombers loss at Investors Group Field.

  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke shakes hands with a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after the 37-7 loss.

    David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press

    Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke shakes hands with a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after the 37-7 loss.

  • A Winnipeg Blue Bombers fan delivers a message.

    Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press

    A Winnipeg Blue Bombers fan delivers a message.

  • A fan dressed in a gorilla suit had a message of his own for the Bombers Saturday.

    Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press

    A fan dressed in a gorilla suit had a message of his own for the Bombers Saturday.

  • Others made their voices heard by not showing up at all.

    David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press

    Others made their voices heard by not showing up at all.

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle.

    David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press

    Reduce, reuse, recycle.

  • Bubbles are fun. For Bomber fans, this game was not.

    David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press

    Bubbles are fun. For Bomber fans, this game was not.

  • Keith Tarr calms his three-year-old son Jaxon near the end of another Blue Bombers loss at Investors Group Field.

    Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press

    Keith Tarr calms his three-year-old son Jaxon near the end of another Blue Bombers loss at Investors Group Field.

  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke and quarterback Jason Boltus walk off of the field after the game.

    David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press

    Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke and quarterback Jason Boltus walk off of the field after the game.

  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers Carl Fitzgerald (#26) looks dejected as he leaves the field.

    David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press

    Winnipeg Blue Bombers Carl Fitzgerald (#26) looks dejected as he leaves the field.

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