Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New sack master emerges

Second-year player Turner anchor tenant on defensive line

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The hottest Blue Bomber player wears No. 92 and is on pace for 54 sacks this year.


A ridiculous forecast for Bryant Turner after one game, to be sure, but when the defensive tackle brings the heat like he did against the B.C. Lions last weekend, a further examination on the subject is required. One of the few bright spots from that forgettable 33-16 loss was Turner's three sacks -- the same number he had in 13 games last season.

So what should we make of this start to the 2012 campaign? Is this a sign of things to come? Was it an announcement to the rest of the league that he's ready to carry the flag for a Bombers defensive line that is known to devour the odd passer or two?

"Stay tuned to the regular season and see what happens next," he joked with reporters at a sweltering workout at Canad Inns Stadium.

Like he was last Friday, Turner was in fine form Tuesday, dissecting his game against the Lions while trying to keep the focus on the Bombers' next opponent, the Montreal Alouettes. The 6-foot-2, 260-pounder from Mobile, Ala., said the three-sack game was his first since high school, and when the subject of a defensive line 'quarterback sack' pool came up, he was more than willing to play along -- to a point, anyway.

"Who told you? Somebody must have told you something," he laughed, treading cautiously to not spoil this unofficial income stream he's already taken advantage of.

"There's a little pool going to see who has the most sacks. I think we're going to try to keep it going every game. Now the people who didn't have the most sacks want to change the rules a little, but hopefully we keep them the same."

Turner wouldn't detail what those rules are or who is involved, but he did mention that it is a game-by-game friendly wager between players.

So, how much did he make last week?

"No comment," he smiled. "Next question, please."

Turner's coming out party in Vancouver comes at a great time for Winnipeg, who had some questions on the defensive line with the losses of Odell Willis, Doug Brown, Don Oramasionwu and Dorian Smith. He's become an anchor tenant in the front seven, making a name for himself when Smith got hurt last season. Once he had a chance to play, he never let go.

"He's a better example right now than a leader," said head coach Paul LaPolice, offering a thoughtful take on where the second-year player sits within the makeup of the team at this juncture.

Turner, who suffered a career-threatening eye injury when Lions lineman Angus Reid poked him in the face during the Grey Cup last November (the eye was swollen shut and he couldn't finish the game), figures the current Bombers group -- featuring Jason Vega, Brandon Collier, and the rest of the deep supporting cast -- still has the high-motor elements and brashness of past D-line incarnations.

"We still got that going -- hopefully we keep that going the rest of the season," he said, fully aware the Bombers led the CFL with 55 sacks a season ago. "Last game let teams know that we're still the same type of defence, even though we (are) missing some big-name guys."

LaPolice threw a bit of cold water on Turner's sack hat-trick versus B.C., pointing out the 24-year-old was going up against rookie offensive lineman Matt Norman (a 2012 draft choice) for most of the game. But the coach projects bigger things from the entire defensive line as the season settles in.

"People are gonna have to scheme protections to make sure they don't one-on-one block (Turner), and that will hopefully free up other guys to make plays," LaPolice added. Twitter: @wazoowazny

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 4, 2012 D3

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