Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–3–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No QB coronation in Bomberville

Jyles, LeFors in, Bishop is out, and nobody's anointed yet

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The quarterback shuffle continues in Winnipeg as Paul LaPolice reshapes his team in an image that suits his coaching style.

The Blue Bombers officially announced the signing of Steven Jyles on Tuesday afternoon while releasing veteran Michael Bishop and prospect Casey Bramlet at the same time.

Jyles will be a contender for the starting role battling lefty Stefan LeFors while less experienced passers Ricky Santos and Adam DiMichele will come to camp as longshots to vie for the starting position.

"We're not anointing anyone as our starting quarterback. I will not be an early evaluator," said LaPolice. "From the first day that I got here, we've said we wanted more depth at the quarterback position. We knew if we released Michael, we would have less experience.

"Bringing in Steven, he has experience in the league. He's going to have a high level of comfort with the game and the system we use. We also believe he has the tools and the ability to be a successful quarterback in this league."

Jyles, 27, has spent time with both the Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders, mostly as a backup. Last year he dressed for all 18 games with the Riders completing 25 of 40 passes for 290 yards and one touchdown. He was used mostly in short yardage situations, coming off the bench for Riders starter Darian Durant.

Both the Bombers and Riders offered contracts to the free agent who played his college football at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.

"This is a great opportunity for me and I'm looking forward to challenging for the starting job," said Jyles, who left ULM owning almost every passing record in the school's history, as well as being named the Sun Belt Conference's Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year in 2005. "It's a chance to work in a system with coach LaPolice and coach (Jamie) Barresi, both of whom I'm familiar with from my time in Saskatchewan. This is a chance to start my career as a starter in this league."

The Bombers signed Bishop midway through the season last summer and after missing the opportunity to get in shape and learn the offence at training camp, he never got on track.

"Michael has struggled with consistency and the system we use, we really stress accuracy at the quarterback position," said LaPolice. "We'll throw anywhere from 65 to 70 per cent of our plays so we need a very accurate passer and a guy that can pull the ball and run with it."

Bishop passed for 3,035 yards with 15 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 2009.

LaPolice said he expected Jyles and LeFors to get the majority of reps in the first few days of camp.

"Those two guys, having a little more experience would have a leg up, I would think," said the first-year coach. "But the competition is wide open. DeMichele could come in and light it up and move into a more prominent role. We'll evaluate after a few days and see where it goes from there."

The Bombers also signed receiver D.J. Hall on Tuesday. Hall started 39 of 48 games during his college career at Alabama and recorded two 1,000-yard seasons there.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 24, 2010 C7

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