Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

O'Shea sets tone as a hands-on coach

Not above toting water onto field

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Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea

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Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea (PAUL WIECEK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Photo Store

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Mike O'Shea offered some small, but perhaps revealing, glimpses Sunday morning into what kind of head coach he intends to be during his first-ever practice as the new field boss of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The Bombers' new rookie head coach individually greeted and shook the hands of each of the 50 or so players who turned out for Day 1 of the Bombers' first-ever Florida mini-camp at the IMG Academy.

And then midway through practice -- and with a hot sun beating down -- O'Shea grabbed a tray of water bottles from the sidelines and took them out to players and coaches on the field.

Now, a head coach individually greeting players at the doorway prior to the start of practice is unusual, but not unprecedented. But a head coach carrying water out onto the field? That is very definitely a new one in the normally very stratified and regimented world of pro football.

Get used to it, O'Shea told reporters after the conclusion of the first of two two-hour practices the team had scheduled for Sunday.

"Listen, the deal is everybody's in charge of everything," said O'Shea. "Just because they put an 'HC' in front of my name doesn't mean I shouldn't be the one. If you take (former Argos head coach) Pinball (Clemons) as a mentor -- I'm here to serve them in whatever capacity they need.

"I think it's important that everybody realizes that at any given time, they can choose to lead and do the right thing. We need everybody contributing in every way possible to make sure we're going in the right direction."


Robert Marve

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Robert Marve

Marve looks solid

QUARTERBACK Robert Marve looked right at home on Day 1 of mini-camp -- and not just because he grew up just a short drive north in Tampa.

Marve -- who was named Florida's Mr. Football in 2006 after a sensational high school season that saw him set single-season state records for completions, touchdowns and yards -- was unmistakably the sharpest of the three Bombers quarterbacks on the field on Sunday, throwing deep, hard and with remarkable accuracy all day long.

Marve played for NCAA powerhouses in both Miami and Purdue in an unusual six-year college career, but the rap on him has been a bad ACL he has torn at least three times.

But Marve said Sunday those problems are now behind him after the latest surgery 10 months ago and he's anxious to show what he can do in the CFL.

"It's a fun game. It's definitely a fun game, its spacing. The field's bigger, you can throw it farther. I like that part of it. It's different. You have to get used to it. It definitely takes some time, but I'm looking forward to the challenge...

"It's very similar to what we did in high school, where I was the most successful in my football career. The deep ball, I'm a huge fan of it. That's one of my strongest suits, is putting the ball out there and letting guys go get it. The Canadian league kind of gives you that opportunity more than other leagues."


Drew Willy

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Drew Willy

Willy joins other QBs

THE other Bomber quarterbacks on the field on Sunday were starter Drew Willy and second-year backup Max Hall. (A fourth Bombers quarterback, Brian Brohm, -- who got married on Saturday -- arrives today).

Hall was asked Sunday how he felt when O'Shea called him earlier this winter to tell him Willy -- who was acquired in February -- would be the starter in 2014. "We had a chat about it. I understand he's a new coach bringing in a new quarterback. I just asked for a chance to compete, and that's what he said he'd give me. I really like coach O'Shea. I like what he's bringing to the club, and he was honest with me and upfront about it, which I appreciated."

Hall said he feels better prepared coming into his second CFL training camp. "I just know what to prepare for this time. Last time coming into a new league I didn't really know what to expect. The offence, a lot of it's going to be the same, just called different. I feel prepared. I've had the chance to review the film in the off-season and work on the stuff I need to work on and kinda be ready to go."


YARDSTICKS -- Willy was crisp with his passing on Sunday, but also threw a few interceptions he'd have liked to have had back... Willie Haulstead, a lanky wide receiver out of Florida State, was impressive on Day 1, showing both speed and good hands in traffic... Quentin Sims (Tennessee-Martin) C.J. Tarver (Hudson Valley) and Austin Coleman (St. Francis) were other receivers who stood out on Day 1... DBs Phillip Benning (Texas State), Maurice Leggett (Valdosta State) and Bruce Johnson (Miami) all had interceptions on Day 1 and stood out all day. Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 14, 2014 C4

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