Well, that’s a wrap on Blue Bombers training camp – all that’s left for coaches to do now is decide who will stay, and who will go.
The final cuts will fall on Friday morning, head coach Mike O’Shea said after practice today, as the Bombers whittle their regular roster down to the 46-man limit.
"It’s not fun," O’Shea said, of the meetings that are looming. "It’s a part of the process, from my standpoint. From the players standpoint, it can be devastating. And you have to handle it professionally, but it’s still a part of you that you understand how they’re feeling."
One area of interest could be the running backs, where injuries have battered the legs they brought into camp. Indeed, as of this morning tailback Nick Grigsby was the only international still standing at that position, with Paris Cotton and Will Ford still out at least another two weeks with injuries. They also have Canadian tailback Carl Volny, who has been bruised too – hence, why the Bombers scooped up another American running back, rookie Kyle Bolton, on Wednesday.
"In order to even have a practice, we needed to bring people in," O’Shea said. "That’s what was troublesome, how do we run this type of practice."
Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Grigsby will be the starter on day one, O’Shea cautioned. "I wouldn’t make that deduction," he said. "He took reps today, that’s for sure. I think he still looks like he’s banged up a little bit, and he’s gutting it out, and I like to see that."
One of the players waiting to find out where he will fit is cornerback Donovan Alexander, a Winnipegger and seven-year CFL veteran, who nabbed a chance to sign with Winnipeg this off-season. He missed most of camp with a strained muscle, just one of those training camp injuries that can crop up almost no matter what you do. But he was back in practice on today, and coach Mike O’Shea later praised him for making a few plays right away.
No doubt, the Bombers picked him up looking for an experienced Canadian starter, not to mention someone who had worked under defence co-ordinator Gary Etcheverry before. With so much time lost to injury, though, Alexander wasn’t sure how that would change how he slotted in. "I have no idea," Alexander said. "You have to ask the coaches about that one, I’m just happy to be back out on the field… Coaches can’t evaluate you when you’re sitting on the sidelines."