Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blue Bombers notebook

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LOOKS like Henoc Muamba is ready to take another big step in his professional career.

The second-year player has been getting most of the reps at middle linebacker in practice this week, a good indication he will draw the starting assignment over veteran Pierre-Luc Labbe when the Bombers host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Canad Inns Stadium Thursday night.

"He's a good athlete," head coach Paul LaPolice said of Muamba after practice Monday. "He'll have good opportunities to make a play on that tailback, because that tailback is fast. They're a fast football team."

Labbe has seen most of the minutes at middle linebacker since the start of the season, but with the quick and highly explosive Ticats offence coming to town, the club appears ready to make a change to deal with Chevon Walker's speed coming out of the backfield.

Walker is third in CFL rushing with 435 yards on 75 carries.

LaPolice hasn't made an official decision on the middle linebacker position, but did say there's a "good chance" Muamba -- the top pick in the 2011 draft -- will get the call. The 22-year-old, who's been a part of a rotation with Labbe on defence for most of the season, has 15 defensive tackles and five special teams tackles in six games.

It looks like the Bombers defence will get a big break Thursday, too, as Ticats slotback Andy Fantuz missed a second day of practice Monday. He took a shot to the head in the loss to Calgary last week and is looking questionable for the trip to Winnipeg.

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IT'S been a trying few weeks, but Bryant Turner says his mind is focused on football once again.

The tackle returns to his starting position on the defensive line when the Bombers take on the Tiger-Cats. It will be 21 days between games for the 24-year-old, as he missed the 36-26 loss to Montreal to attend his grandmother's funeral.

"It was on my mind a lot here," Turner told reporters Monday. "Being home was better, it was like... football wasn't on my mind for the few days before I left, I felt like I wasn't doing nothing but hurting the team by staying around."

He said it was good to be around his family in Mobile, Ala.

"Everybody being home, that kind of took the pain off a little," he said.

Turner, who still leads the Bombers with five sacks, is yet another piece Winnipeg will add to its defence. With Alex Suber and Ian Logan expected to return to their secondary positions, and linebacker Brandon Stewart expected to return next week, Turner feels the Bombers might be close to looking like the defensive menace they were in 2011.

"A lot more experience on the field, that's a good thing," he said. Twitter: @wazoowazny

Hefney back

Defensive back Jonathan Hefney was back on the field Monday, but not without some confusion regarding his absence. He was at home in South Carolina looking after his daughter, and called it a "miscommunication" as to why he was fined by the club despite being granted an extra couple of days off. Blame poor cellphone reception, he said.

Bomber stamps

Canada Post is commemorating the 100th Grey Cup Championship by unveiling nine stamps -- eight featuring an iconic moment chosen by each CFL team and one of the Grey Cup itself. The Bombers stamp depicts the 1962 Fog Bowl, the 28-27 win over the Tiger-Cats in the 50th Grey Cup in Toronto.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 14, 2012 C3

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