Attention football fans: The smell of pigskin and the cracking of pads will soon be in the air.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced details of their 2012 training camp Wednesday and for those counting -- no doubt some of you are after a long off-season -- there are exactly 14 days until members of the Blue and Gold start running around on the field again.
After medicals and meetings Saturday, June 2, the Bombers begin full workouts at Canad Inns Stadium the following day. All practices and workouts are at the aging facility -- the last camp to be held at the stadium before the club moves into Investors Group Field later this year.
Before main camp opens, however, quarterbacks and CFL newcomers will participate in a three-day rookie camp. That starts Wednesday, May 30 and wraps up on Friday, June 1. There, first-year pros can get their head around the Canadian game before trying to win a job against veteran incumbents.
Though much of the Bombers starting roster appears to be set going in, the three-week workout (give or take a day) should provide some interesting employment battles at a few key spots:
-- The backup quarterback competition is on once again. While Alex Brink comes in as the slight favourite over Joey Elliott (who missed most of last season with a torn ACL), head coach Paul LaPolice said earlier this month that the gig is up for grabs. No free passes: Brink and Elliott will have to show they want the No. 2 spot on the depth chart behind start Buck Pierce.
-- With Doug Brown's retirement and Joe Lobendahn gone, the club is looking at starting a Canadian in the middle linebacker hole, meaning veteran Pierre-Luc Labbe will go against 2011 top draft choice Henoc Muamba for the spot.
-- Other areas looking fuzzy before camp are the offensive line (who will play centre?); the kicking game; and depth within the Canadian receiver spots.
Training camp should also give everyone a better look at what CFL neophyte Gary Crowton has planned for the Winnipeg offence this summer. How much of the three-down game the new offensive co-ordinator has absorbed over the last four months will be of interest to many in and around the club.
The defending East Division champion Bombers have two exhibition games during the camp schedule. The first takes place against the Montreal Alouettes at Molson Stadium Thursday, June 14, while the second and final preseason game goes Wednesday, June 20 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Canad Inns Stadium.
Winnipeg opens the regular season Friday, June 29, when they travel to Vancouver to take on the B.C. Lions in a Grey Cup rematch.
LEGACY DINNER: Tickets are still available for the annual Legacy Dinner, which goes June 18 at Canad Inns Polo Park. Three former members of the football club -- defensive lineman Doug Brown and former presidents Ken Matchett and Reg Low -- are to be inducted into the Blue Bombers Hall of Fame.
For more information, call the Bomber office at (204) 784-2583.
Wednesday, May 30: 3:50 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.
Thursday, May 31 - Friday, June 1: 10:30 a.m. - 11:35 a.m.
Saturday, June 2: Veterans report to camp for physicals and meetings.
Sunday, June 3: 9:30 a.m. - 12:50 p.m.
Monday and Tuesday, June 4-5:
8:20 a.m. - 12:25 p.m.
Wednesday, June 6: 11 a.m. - 12 noon
Thursday and Friday, June 7-8:
8:20 a.m. - 12:25 p.m.
Saturday, June 9: 10:25 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Sunday and Monday, June 10-11: 8:20 a.m. - 12:25 p.m.
Tuesday, June 12: 9:20 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 13: No practice - Travel to Montreal
Thursday, June 14: Bombers at Montreal Alouettes
6:30 p.m., Molson Stadium (CJOB)
Friday, June 15: No practice - Travel to Winnipeg
Saturday and Sunday, June 16-17: 11 a.m. - 1:05 p.m.
Monday, June 18: 11 a.m. - 12:50 p.m.
Tuesday, June 19: Walkthrough
Wednesday, June 20: Bombers vs. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
7 p.m., Canad Inns Stadium (CJOB)
Note: The camp is open to the public. All times are approximate and subject to change.