The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be opening the 2014 Canadian Football League season with some major holes in their defence.
The club announced its practice roster and injured list Sunday and among the walking wounded are three projected starters from their defence: linebacker Korey Banks, cornerback Donovan Alexander and defensive back Alex Suber. All of which likely has Ricky Ray and the rest of the Toronto Argonauts – who are here for the home opener on Thursday – drooling.
Asked if that was a concern — starting a couple players in safety Moe Leggett and halfback Bruce Johnson who have never seen Ray before — Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea just grinned and then spun it the other way.
"It could be a good thing," he said. "They don’t have a pre-conceived notion of how good Ricky Ray is, right? You design training camp, your Florida (free agent) camp, your scouting combines, to bring in talent to push at every position. So, we’re fortunate enough that our (defensive back) group coming into this camp is loaded with talent. When guys go down the other guys step up and they fully expect to do well. Each of those players that are going to play against Toronto fully expect to do the job they are asked to do."
Based on Sunday’s practice, the Bombers will line up Chris Randle and Matt Bucknor (for Alexander) at corner, Johnson and Demond Washington at halfback and Leggett at safety. The three linebackers were E.J. Kuale, Desia Dunn and Johnny Sears, Jr. with Bryant Turner, Jake Thomas, Zach Anderson, Greg Peach and Jason Vega all rotating along the defensive line.
The notable adjustments on offence saw Nic Grigsby line up at running back – Will Ford was primarily returning kicks and is on the reserve list – with Dan Knapp at right tackle alongside Patrick Neufeld. Glenn January was the left tackle, with Chris Greaves at left guard, Steve Morley at centre and Patrick Neufeld at right guard.
Meanwhile, the club also placed running back Paris Cotton, defensive back Marty Markett and offensive linemen Dale Stevenson and Paul Swiston on the one-game injured list and, as expected, both Ryan Lucas and Graig Newman would open the year on the six-game injured list.
One player was outright released: Canadian linebacker Aram Eisho, the team’s seventh-round draft pick this spring.
Meanwhile, the following players were cut and then added to the practice roster:
- Canadian receiver Brett Carter
- Canadian offensive lineman Quinn Everett
- Import quarterback Kolton Browning
- Import running back Kyle Bolton
- Import offensive lineman Jarvis Jones
- Import defensive back Daivon Dumas
- Import defensive lineman Kashawn Fraser
- Import receiver Donavon Kemp
Signed and added to the practice roster was import running back Davin Meggett (5-8, 219, Maryland). Meggett appeared in 50 games for the Terrapins, starting 17. In his senior season he rushed for 896 yards and four touchdowns before spending time on practice rosters in the NFL with Indianapolis, Washington, Houston and Dallas.
BLUE NOTES: The Bombers also announced that some players have changed their numbers now that the roster has been set. They are:defensive back Don Unamba (13),offensive lineman Cord Howard (68), receiver Julian Feoli-Gudino (83), receiver Brett Carter (80), defensive back Maurice Leggett (31), defensive back Marty Markett (20), linebacker Jesse Briggs (40), defensive back Derek Jones (41), kicker Lirim Hajrullahu (70), defensive back Teague Sherman (27),defensive back Bruce Johnson (25).