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Bomber Report

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Grim Reaper scythes Blue

QB Clements leads list of Bombers chopped on cut-down day

Posted: 06/23/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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Not long after 21 players were sent packing by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers early Saturday, head coach Tim Burke said it only confirmed his belief that cut-down day is among the worst days of the year.

"For the most part easy (decisions), but there are always some guys that take it hard," Burke said. "It's not fun doing it, I can tell you that.

"It's no fun telling somebody they're fired. So now that I've been on both ends of it, they're equally terrible."

Now that the bulk of personnel decisions have been made, Burke was asked, based on training camp and the team's two exhibition games, which produced an 0-2 record and not a single touchdown, how today he would sum up the 2013 edition of the Bombers.

"We're a lot more veteran than we've probably been as we start the year," he said. "We're healthy for most part. We'll just have to go out and play and see how we do.

"I would hope that we would be improved in the secondary. I think that we'll see continued growth with our offensive line. If they build on what they did last year at the end of the year, I think we'll see definite improvement there. Our protection should be better this year.

"I hope our backup quarterback play (will be) better than it was last year."

The coach was also asked if he'd have a message for his roster players, now that those decisions have been made.

"The message I have for them: 'We didn't play a lot of veterans in the second pre-season game but we practise at game speed. It's a necessity we practise at game speed so that when we do go out for the game, it's like we've already been in a pre-season game.' "

There were no bombshells Saturday, leaving last week's release of defensive back Jonathan Hefney as the shocker of training camp.

But of significance, the Bombers made their call on their three quarterbacks. Behind starter Buck Pierce will be Justin Goltz and Max Hall, as Chase Clement was the odd man out.

"Yeah. It was a spirited debate," Burke said of the quarterback discussion. "I think we decided that Max was probably the guy who knew our offence the best and could run it a little bit better. But it was pretty equal."

Burke said he didn't think Clement would accept a spot on the nine-man practice roster (five imports, four non-imports maximum). In that case, Winnipeg is likely to add a fourth quarterback to the practice roster, "a younger guy that's just coming out of college, I would think."

With fullback Carl Fitzgerald and punter Billy Pavlopoulos among Saturday's cuts, that leaves the Bombers with no one on their active roster from the 2013 CFL draft to start the season. Burke said it's possible both of those players could wind up on the practice roster.

Looking ahead to Thursday's season-opening game against Montreal, the first CFL regular-season game at Investors Group Field, the coach pronounced his lineup mostly healthy, though linebacker Johnny Sears and slotback Kito Poblah are unlikely to play for health reasons.

Burke did say that in Poblah's spot for the opener, either Rory Kohlert or Jade Etienne will be getting the start.

For Sears, we're likely to see either Desia Dunn or Jeremy McGee in that role on Thursday.

As far as declaring other jobs won where there had been question marks, the coach did say Terrell Parker has earned the weak-side linebacker position, Kenny Mainor will be a starter at defensive end, Shannon Boatman will be the starting right tackle and Paul Swiston is likely to be the team's sixth offensive lineman, leaving some sort of decision to be made on the status of O-lineman Tyson Pencer.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 23, 2013 B4

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