Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–3–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blue make yet another move at QB

Backup Santos acquired from Als, backup Randall given his release

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Bust out those Winnipeg Blue Bomber depth charts again, football fans, and have a pencil and eraser handy because an outfit which has already experienced an extreme makeover is getting another facelift.

And this isn't another little nip here and tuck there.

Fresh from their blockbuster deal with the Calgary Stampeders Sunday afternoon, the Bombers made another trade less than 24 hours later by acquiring quarterback Ricky Santos from the Montreal Alouettes for two Canadian defensive linemen, Riall Johnson and Shawn Mayne. Part of the fallout of that transaction was the release Monday night of QB Bryan Randall, the former Virginia Tech star who has spent the last year-and-a-half apprenticing with the Bombers.

The flurry of activity means the struggling Bombers, now 3-8, have landed four new bodies and shipped out five -- including receivers Romby Bryant and Arjei Franklin, who were sent to the Stamps -- since Sunday's 33-14 smackdown by the Als.

The addition of Santos on Monday and the deletion of Randall means the Bombers will go to war against the Toronto Argonauts this Saturday with veteran Michael Bishop backed up by Casey Bramlet, who has been here for less than two weeks, and Santos.

"There's a lot of people that believe that the two young quarterbacks in this league right now that can develop into a player are (Travis) Lulay out in B.C. and Ricky Santos, who Montreal has been grooming along for the last couple of years," Bomber head coach Mike Kelly told CJOB. "Ricky had astronomical numbers coming out of the University of New Hampshire and led a program into the NCAA playoffs that hadn't seen that level of success for a long time. He's a mature kid that's got some skill sets."

The deal did raise eyebrows in CFL circles, however, as the Bombers shipped two Canadians for a player who was languishing in Montreal and buried behind Anthony Calvillo, Adrian McPherson and Chris Leak. As well, Winnipeg's Canadian depth is already thin with Brady Browne and Steven Holness on the injured list. Also available are receiver Michael Hyman, O-lineman Lorne Plante and former University of Manitoba Bison D-lineman Justin Shaw, expected to join the team today.

That said, the Bombers desperately need to find an answer at the quarterback position with Bishop -- four touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season -- struggling. And for both Bramlet and Santos the chance to stake a claim to a starting gig here is critical. Santos, in particular, is desperate to get on the field after starring at the University of New Hampshire and trying out with the Kansas City Chiefs before heading north.

"It's a great opportunity that I couldn't pass up," Santos told The Montreal Gazette. "An athlete's a confident guy. But you can't go wrong playing any of those guys (ahead of him on the Alouette roster). I was the odd man out... Still, it was extremely frustrating, not playing or dressing."

Sunday's deal has landed the Bombers three players -- all of whom could be in the lineup against the Argos this weekend -- while helping boost the Stamps' depleted receiving corps in their run for a Grey Cup repeat.

Ryan (6-0, 190, Concordia College-Selma) has seven receptions for 111 yards and a TD this year and leads the CFL in kick-return yards with 984 yards, including a 104-yard score. Willis (6-2, 265, West Georgia) has six sacks this year as a rookie and fills the gap left by the injury to Fred Perry.

Arthur (6-4, 225, Akron) is clearly the key to the deal for the Bombers. A former first-round draft pick, he is still considered a blue-chip prospect despite a rash of injuries, including a broken foot that has kept him on the sidelines this season after a solid training camp. He is eligible to come off the nine-game injured list in time for this weekend's game.

The Bombers moved Bryant after his struggles this year had limited his production severely (20 catches for 232 yards and zero TDs) while Franklin is in his option year and had balked at re-signing a new deal. Speculation is he would like to return to southern Ontario if he should hit free agency.

"It provides us with three guys who are young and under contract for an extended time," said Kelly.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

TODAY'S BOMBER REPORT C3

Coming and going

NEW GUYS

WR Titus Ryan

The buzz: Big-time speed; return specialist. Raw but talented.

SB Jabari Arthur

The buzz: Huge Canadian target the Bombers hope and pray could evolve into a Gerald Wilcox type.

DE Odell Willis

The buzz: Bounced around the Arena League before heading north. Has six sacks this season.

QB Ricky Santos

The buzz: A star at the University of New Hampshire, starting for the Wildcats for four years and going 37-14. A three-time Division 1-AA All-American, Santos won the Walter Payton Award in 2006 as the top offensive player in I-AA.

To Calgary

"ö WR Romby Bryant: Last year's leading receiver for the Bombers; struggled this season.

"ö WR Arjei Franklin: Likable Canadian suffered a high-ankle sprain earlier this year; scheduled to return this weekend.

To Montreal

"ö DE Shawn Mayne: Reserve Canadian and a Montreal product now heading home.

"ö DE Riall Johnson: Veteran end who has seen spot starting duty here and in Toronto.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 22, 2009 C1

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