December 11, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
This is the law of the Canadian Football League, especially when a team is 1-7 and being squeezed by a six-game losing streak:
Usually, with every new arrival of talent there is an accompanying exit.
And so as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers spoke of bringing in a handful of new players in the wake of Saturday's 37-14 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, it's worth noting how that might impact those currently holding down the fort in the clubhouse.
That's why so many veterans eye the Labour Day weekend as a critical point, not just because it normally signifies the half-way point of a campaign, but because of how it impacts their status and their bank accounts.
For example, a veteran of six or more years would have his contract guaranteed for the remainder of the season after the ninth game played by the club. Here is the official breakdown:
All this means the vets possibly most affected this week are those who have been around the longest: QB Buck Pierce, SB Terrence Edwards, PK Sando DeAngelis (9th year); OL Steve Morley (8th); CB Jovon Johnson, CB Brandon Stewart, OL Glenn January (7th) and LB Pierre Luc-Labbe (6th).
Of that crew, Pierce left Saturday's loss with what head coach Tim Burke referred to as "some kind of upper-body injury, neck or shoulder or something like that" -- it's unlikely the club would release an injured veteran -- DeAngelis has drawn praise for his work since his arrival, Johnson, Stewart and January are all starters while Labbe and Morley are both Canadian.
It was leaked on the weekend that former Ticat pivot Jason Boltus is one of the new arrivals, and while Burke and the Bombers were not made available to the media on Monday as they played in their annual golf tournament, the head coach did tell CJOB on his daily show that two of the others are receivers.
Burke did say there was a possibility Max Hall, who injured his throwing hand early in the loss to the Ticats, could still be green-lighted for this week's game. The Bombers will be back on the field for practice on Wednesday in advance of the annual Labour Day Classic in Regina -- a contest they have dropped eight years running and in which the Roughriders are favoured by two touchdowns.
CURSE AMONG YOURSELVES, BOMBER FANS: Consider this: on the weekend the CFL on TSN panel -- including Matt Dunigan, Milt Stegall, Paul LaPolice and Chris Schultz -- was asked to offer up its mid-season picks for the various awards. As top rookie, three of the panel selected Calgary centre Brett Jones, who is starting, while one chose Montreal starting safety Mike Edem -- both of whom are Canadians the Bombers bypassed in the 2013 CFL Draft. Winnipeg selected second overall and grabbed DE Andy Mulumba, almost certain to make the Green Bay Packers roster, and then with the 11th pick chose DB Kris Robertson -- who suffered a torn ACL just prior to camp and was lost for the season. Edem, for the record, was selected third overall while Jones lasted until the 16th pick.
FINE PERFORMANCE: Burke told listeners to his radio show Monday night that defensive end Alex Hall, who at one point during the game was seen waving off the sideline when he was ordered off the field, will be fined heavily for his refusal.
WRINKLE WORKS: One of the highlights from the weekend loss -- for the Ticats -- was the old throw-back-to-the-QB trick play that saw receiver Onrea Jones complete a pass to Dan LeFevour for a 29-yard TD.
The Ticats used part of two days of practice last week to find a QB candidate who could make the throw.
"Guys at this level all tell you that they played quarterback in high school and they are all great playmakers," Hamilton head coach Kent Austin told the Hamilton Spectator.
"Then you get them out there under pressure and they are killing worms with the ball or throwing it into the stands."
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 27, 2013 D3