MONTREAL — After a week of twists, turns and tribulations, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers finally have a roster for their game here Friday against the Montreal Alouettes.
And it’s going to be one that is significantly different than the one they used to win their first two games of the 2014 season.
The depth chart the Bombers released Thursday afternoon shortly after the team landed shows a total of five changes to this week’s roster.
Coming on to the 46-man roster this week is DB Donovan Alexander, LB Kyle Norris, RB Paris Cotton, DL Bryant Turner and WR Romby Bryant.
Going off the roster is S Maurice Leggett, LB Rene Stephan, DL Zach Anderson, OL Chris Greaves and WR Aaron Woods. Leggett, Stephan, Anderson and Greaves are all injured.
With Leggett sitting, Johnny Sears will start at safety this week — backed up by Alexander — while non-import Teague Sherman will start at strong-side linebacker and Turner will return to his customary position at defensive tackle after a week away to attend the birth of his daughter.
On offence, the big change was already reported earlier this week, with Cordaro Howard slotted in to replace Greaves at left guard.
There were also concerns that wide receiver Aaron Kelly — the second leading receiver in the CFL — might not play Friday after he came up lame during practice on Wednesday, but Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said Thursday afternoon that Kelly made the trip and is expected to start Friday night.
"Aaron Kelly is a go, as he said he will be," said O’Shea.
With a win here over Montreal, the Bombers would open the 2014 season at 3-0, a mark they haven’t achieved to start a season since 2003 and which would equal their total number of wins for all of 2013.
But O’Shea cautioned against reading too much into his team’s early success. "We’ve won two games. We’ve been successful twice," he said. "And it’s important, I thought... that this team tasted winning early, especially for the veteran players that had experienced more than their fair share of losing.
"I thought it was extremely important that we win early, so they’ve got that taste in their mouth now and they like it."
The Alouettes will have a couple of minor roster changes tomorrow, but will field almost the same roster they used to beat the BC Lions last weekend. That will include starting QB Troy Smith, who was a question mark earlier in the week when he missed practice with a sore knee.
There was one big piece of news in Montreal on Thursday, however: longtime Als GM Jim Popp has signed a three-year contract extension.