Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–10–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jovon gets Nik'd battling Stamps' Lewis in slot

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JOVON JOHNSON had a tough day at the office Saturday afternoon, but the Winnipeg Blue Bombers linebacker still found a way to try to keep his team in the game.

The Bombers' offence turned the ball over eight times in their 32-21 loss to the Calgary Stampeders at Canad Inns Stadium, and Johnson and the defence were on the field for a large chunk of the game.

In the first half, Calgary's time of possession was 21 minutes 5 seconds compared to Winnipeg's 8:55.

With 1:25 left in the game, Calgary running back Jon Cornish fumbled and Johnson recovered the ball. The Bombers got it back with Calgary leading 29-21. But the Bombers turned it over on an Alex Brink fumble and Calgary had the field position to get their last points on a field goal.

"It gave us a chance," said the 5-9, 182-pound Johnson. "Marcellus (Bowman) made a play and forced a fumble and I just was coming over just in case he didn't make the tackle, but he made it. It was big, but we turned the ball over."

In the first half, Johnson was on the losing end of some battles with Calgary's 5-foot-10, 240-pound slotback Nik Lewis.

"He's a physical receiver, but at the end of the day, they did some things game-plan-wise that allowed him to get open," Johnson said.

He said Calgary's game plan was executed with authority by Stampeders quarterback Kevin Glenn.

"We all know he's a good quarterback once he gets in rhythm. He got in rhythm early and he stayed in rhythm."

Johnson is essentially playing out of position in an effort to help the team fill holes in their defence. He made CFL history in 2011 as the first defensive back to win the CFL's Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award. He was moved to the strong-side linebacker position last month after the 52-0 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina.

Bombers head coach Tim Burke said he believes Johnson is suited to the linebacker slot and was noncommittal when asked if he'd consider moving Johnson out of that position.

"There were some times he lost some one-on-one battles with the receiver and a couple times he got picked on a couple plays," Burke said of Johnson's play Saturday. "I just think he lost some one-on-one battles, especially against Nik (Lewis) for that one touchdown."

Lewis had a 28-yard gain against Johnson's coverage to help set up Marquay McDaniel's 10-yard touchdown that lifted Calgary to a 26-14 halftime lead.

Johnson was more direct with his opinion on his linebacker role.

"I'm a cornerback, but at the end of the day, I'm doing what the team needs, and that's go out there and play SAM (linebacker). I guess we'll see what happens at the end of the season." Asked if he'd like to play linebacker next season, Johnson said "absolutely not."

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPAshleyPrest

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 14, 2012 B3

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