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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mack and Blue

Winnipeg GM gives state of the union address

Posted: 03/16/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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Winnipeg Blue Bombers general manager Joe Mack covered a lot of ground in his one-on-one interview with Free Press football writer Paul Wiecek on Friday.

Here's what Mack had to say about a range of subjects:

How is the search for a new starting quarterback going?

"We've worked out three quarterbacks this week...and everyone that is on our negotiation list is of interest to us. I don't know that we'll be able to work them all out because some of them are still under contract and stuff...We'll just have to see what their schedules are like and who can work out for us and when."

There's been some talk that you might be particularly interested in former Arizona Cardinals QB Max Hall or former LSU QB Jarrett Lee.

"We haven't worked either of them out. Jarrett got cut by San Diego and he might have aspirations of still trying the NFL. We've had conversations with Max, but we don't have anything conclusive."

Is there a timetable you have for getting a quarterback signed?

"Our thought process is the first week of April or, at the latest, the second week of April ideally we'd like to have this situation solidified. The issue is kind of three-fold. First, is a quarterback with some talent maybe willing to look at the CFL instead of hoping for another NFL shot? Second, will they work out for us. And third, to be honest with you, if they've been in the NFL for awhile, there's obviously an adjustment in regards to the pay scale. So before we get ahead of ourselves and go down that road, I need to know they understand what the salary structure is like in the CFL."

Can you say right now if Buck Pierce will be in training camp on Day 1 and competing for the starting job?

"I've spoken with Buck a number of times and as usual he was very professional and he was great. He understands the reality that as a team and an organization we just can't keep having our starting quarterback get hurt...I think we're getting closer to a decision, but I don't think we have a definitive answer just yet..."

So to clarify, you're saying you don't know right now if Buck will come to camp and challenge for the starting job?

"I don't know if I'd say that. How about this -- without saying anything categorically, I think the odds are good Buck will be back in training camp."

Lots of people are talking about the signing of Brett Cameron, Bob Cameron's son. Is he going to get a legitimate chance to win the punter's job?

"I think it's a great sidelight that he's Bob Cameron's son, but we're absolutely bringing him in to compete. Competition is always good and the best person will win."

What is the status of injured offensive lineman (and Winnipeg's top draft pick in 2012) Tyson Pencer?

"The last time I spoke to (athletic therapist) Al Couture, the rehab is going well. I think he's coming to town this week or next week. He's excited. I think he's just started to do some heavy lifting. And we anticipate he'll be ready by the start of training camp."

How do newly-signed safety Cauchy Muamba and veteran starting safety Ian Logan fit together?

"I think Ian would acknowledge this -- we didn't have enough production and we had breakdowns in our defence overall last year. We need Ian to play better. Competition brings out the best in people and we'll see how that evolves. Cauchy did some good things in B.C."

Were you surprised injured free agent linebacker Marcellus Bowman signed with Hamilton?

"I think we were all surprised -- his agent, too. He did a 180. We had an offer on the table and my understanding was our offer was slightly better than Hamilton's...When you read the literature (on the type of still undisclosed knee injury Bowman suffered), only 30-40 per cent come back to full strength. We did not feel he would be ready for training camp and there was some chance he might not be ready for the whole year... I know Marcellus was very disappointed (that the injury came just as some NFL teams were expressing interest in giving him a workout)... I think that there was probably an emotional component at play here that none of us are aware of and that Marcellus just thought it was probably better if he just went somewhere else and start anew."

Are you still interested in re-signing non-import defensive lineman Fernand Kashama?

"There's a difference of opinion about what his value is on the open market."

Offensive lineman Obby Khan was released by Calgary this week. Are you interested?

"No."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 16, 2013 C4

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