Blue Bomber Report Record: 3–15–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Battles within, without

Blue hopefuls fight for CFL jobs, as well as a win

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MONTREAL -- It was the first game for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers since their 34-23 loss to the B.C. Lions in the 2011 Grey Cup last November and it went into the books as an exhibition win, 22-10 over the Montreal Alouettes before a crowd of 20,005 at Percival Molson Stadium.

But this one was really all about the little battles that on this night were occurring as much between the Bombers players themselves as they were between the Bombers and the Als.

Rookie running back Bloi-Dei Dorzon, who rattled off a 38-yard third-quarter touchdown run for Winnipeg's only major of the night, made it clear what this night was about to him. "I'm trying to win a job here," said Dorzon, "so that I can support my six-year-old daughter (Riley)."

And so with that as a sobering backdrop to how sometimes football really is about more than just a game, here's how three of the key battles for roster spots looked on this night:

Kicking

The consensus is rookie import punter/kicker Eric Wilbur will need to win both punter Mike Renaud's job and placekicker Justin Palardy's job if the Bombers are going to keep his American passport around instead of their two incumbent Canadian kickers.

Well, Wilbur won the punting battle on this night and did all he could in the kicking battle, too. In the punting duel, Wilbur had a huge night, averaging 50.8 yards on five punts, including a long of 54 yards. Renaud, on the other hand, had a 55-yard punt but also -- as he did far too often last season -- shanked one in the third quarter that went just 23 yards, leaving him with a 41.4-yard average on five punts.

Wilbur was 2-2 on field goals, hitting from 47 and 38 yards. Palardy was 3-3, hitting from 40, 27 and 14 yards.

And top of all that, Wilbur also completed a 23-yard pass on a fake punt in the third quarter.

"It was a good day -- a good day all around for all the kickers," said Wilbur. "It's pre-season. There's a lot of things to be cleaned up all around, but I'm very happy with how we did."

Offensive line

It wasn't pretty, but no one should have been expecting otherwise on a night when the Bombers started four newbies and veteran guard Steve Morley. With veteran import tackles Glenn January and Andre Douglas at home in Winnipeg nursing injuries, this bunch looked a lot worse than they will be once January and Douglas rejoin Morley on the line.

The other two members of that line must still determined. Chris Greaves got most of the first-team reps at left guard in the first half, while Justin Sorenson and Chris Kowalczuk roughly equally split the centre duties.

Defensive line

A revamped Winnipeg front four sported all kinds of different looks and personnel all night long and so it was perhaps not surprising they recorded only two sacks (DT Ryan Lucas, DT Andre Caroll) all night long.

The bottom line was Montreal mustered just 113 yards rushing and 165 yards passing -- although they did it in the complete absence of all-star QB Anthony Calvillo, who's not expected to make his pre-season debut until next week.

"I think we did alright overall," said Bombers defensive end Jason Vega. "We've got some work to do and can always improve but that wasn't a bad start."

It was hard to pick a star from the front four on this night, but Caroll led the way statistically with two tackles and a sack.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 15, 2012 C3

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