Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Maher edged out of kicking spot by Renaud, rookie

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Graig Newman's injury news may have cast a pall over Bomberland on Monday, but there was other news that wasn't so doom and gloom.

Among the other nuggets from the coach's availability (the team returns to the practice field today):

 

  • The team cut five players: offensive lineman Chris Kowalczuk and running back Errol Brooks, both Canadians; defensive lineman Kenny Tate, receiver C.J. Tarver and kicker Brett Maher, all imports.

Maher, who did not miss a field-goal attempt in camp, was beaten out by the combo of veteran punter Mike Renaud and rookie Canadian Lirim Hajrullahu.

"I said all along in that battle he had to win that job outright in all three phases (field goals, kickoffs and punting) and I think he drew even in all three phases," said head coach Mike O'Shea. "It was a pretty even draw if you look at it all and the way our roster shapes up that wasn't necessarily good enough for him. If he doesn't land on his feet somewhere then, I mean, people aren't watching the tape or their rosters are already set. He's a good young man, strong leg who did everything we asked and did it well. Tough decision but he knew going in what he had to do."

 

  • The Bombers have already completed their pre-season -- ahead of every other team in the CFL. That means they now have more than a week to prep, and stay focused, in advance of their regular-season opener on June 26.

"It's exactly the way we planned it. We couldn't have written it any better," O'Shea said with a grin. "It gives us time to get guys healthy, give us time to spend extra time on our opponent, it's the way it was planned.

"We have plans (to break up the days between games)... we'll see what we can do. It is a long stretch and you need to break it up. They haven't seen the full schedule, but there will be a little bit of time for them."

Asked if there were any team-building exercises planned outside of practice, O'Shea cracked: "Like arts and crafts?"

 

  • O'Shea pointed to some key offensive numbers that jumped out for him in Saturday's exhibition loss in Calgary, including the 26 first downs -- and no two-and-out possessions.

"We started slow as an entire team and we have to find a way to rectify that," he said. "I thought the offence performed pretty well and they played with a lot of heart, they played a real physical style. We ran the ball, threw the ball, moved the ball down the field, we moved the ball out from our own end. Maybe we didn't capitalize on enough of those opportunities down deep, but there were some very positive things.

"As an entire team we took three penalties and we drew even on the turnovers. The effort was still there, the things that I expect were done well. The penalty issue is fantastic. I mean, three penalties in a game?"

 

  • Finally, O'Shea added he's not concerned about the numbers piled up against the defence in the pre-season. In fact...

"The effort is there, the buy-in is there. I'm excited. I got pulled out of a defensive meeting to come to this (media session) and I missed some great stuff."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 17, 2014 C4

History

Updated on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 7:46 AM CDT: Corrects date of season opener

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