Winnipeg’s starting lineup for Thursday evening’s regular season opener against the Toronto Argonauts came into clearer focus at Blue Bombers practice this morning at Investors Group Field.
Bombers centre Steve Morley returned to practice on Tuesday after missing Monday’s session because of a tweaked hamstring. Afterward, Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea proclaimed Morley fit and ready to go.
"He ran a few reps today and when he took off his helmet, he was smiling and I think he feels good," said O’Shea.
After much deliberation, O’Shea said the Bombers have also now decided to go with rookie Nic Grigsby as the club’s starting tailback Thursday night. Grigsby is banged up but so is veteran Will Ford and O’Shea said the club has decided to give the rookie a chance to show what he’s got.
"I expect him to work hard and have good vision and hit the holes and protect and catch the ball and do all the things he’s shown us he can do," said O’Shea.
"And he expects that of himself, too."
Meanwhile, O’Shea confirmed on Tuesday that the club will fly in receiver Romby Bryant this week for a workout. Bryant, a 34-year-old veteran CFLer, was cut by the Argos over the weekend but O’Shea said he’s impressed with Bryant’s work ethic and would like to work him out and see if he’s a fit for the Bombers.
"We’re going to bring him in and take a look. Romby Bryant is an extremely professional football player. He will work extremely hard and... if he shows he’s just as fast and can get off the jams like he’s been doing — and all reports say that he still can — then we’ll have to consider where he fits."
Bryant has played seven seasons in the CFL, including an earlier stint with the Bombers in 2008-09. He’s caught 304 passes for 4,557 yards and 33 TDs in the CFL and has had two 1,000 yard-plus seasons, including one in his rookie year with the Bombers in 2008.
O’Shea said the Bryant workout won’t take place until the club returns to the practice field following the Argos game, suggesting this weekend would be the earliest coaches here will see Bryant.
Also on Tuesday, Argos defensive coordinator Tim Burke did a conference call with Winnipeg reporters in advance of his club’s trip to Winnipeg this week.
Reflecting on his time as head coach of the Bombers the past two seasons, Burke revealed he was reluctant to take the head coach’s job in Winnipeg when it was initially offered to him in August 2012 after Paul LaPolice was fired midseason.
"I don’t believe in firing coaches in mid-season," said Burke. "And it was a tough situation to go into because I knew we weren’t that talented. I knew we were going to struggle and quite honestly, I didn’t want to take the job. But somebody had to."
Asked what he learned from his Winnipeg experience, Burke said all the losing his team did in Winnipeg led him to one overriding conclusion.
"The thing I probably learned the most is you need a substantial amount of talent to be successful. And you’ve got to be good at quarterback to have a chance to be a winner."