Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–6–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The lineup for opener comes into focus

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Winnipeg's starting lineup for Thursday evening's regular-season opener against the Toronto Argonauts came into clearer focus at practice Tuesday at Investors Group Field.

Bombers centre Steve Morley returned to practice yesterday after missing Monday's session with a tweaked hamstring. Afterward, head coach Mike O'Shea proclaimed Morley fit and ready to go.

"He ran a few reps today and when he took off his helmet he was smiling and I think he feels good," said O'Shea.

After much deliberation, O'Shea said the Bombers have also decided to go with rookie Nic Grigsby as the club's starting tailback. Grigsby is banged up but so is veteran Will Ford and O'Shea said the club has decided to give the rookie a chance.

"I expect him to work hard and have good vision and hit the holes and protect and catch the ball and do all the things he's shown us he can do," said O'Shea.

"And he expects that of himself, too."

Meanwhile, O'Shea confirmed the club will fly in receiver Romby Bryant this week for a workout. Bryant, a 34-year-old veteran CFLer, was cut by the Argos over the weekend but O'Shea said he's impressed with Bryant's work ethic and would like to work him out and see if he's a fit for the Bombers.

"We're going to bring him in and take a look. Romby Bryant is an extremely professional football player. He will work extremely hard and people who possibly question his age, if he shows he's just as fast and can get off the jams like he's been doing -- and all reports say that he still can -- then we'll have to consider where he fits."

Bryant has played seven seasons in the CFL, including a stint with the Bombers in 2008-09. He's caught 304 passes for 4,557 yards and 33 TDs in the CFL and has had two 1,000 yard-plus seasons, including one in his rookie year with the Bombers in 2008.

O'Shea said the Bryant workout won't take place until the club returns to the practice field following the Argos game, suggesting this weekend would be the earliest coaches here will see Bryant.

Also Tuesday, Argos defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke conducted a conference call with Winnipeg reporters in advance of his club's trip to Winnipeg this week.

Reflecting on his time as head coach of the Bombers the past two seasons, Burke revealed he was reluctant to take the head coach's job in Winnipeg when it was initially offered to him in August 2012 after Paul LaPolice was fired mid-season.

"I don't believe in firing coaches in mid-season. And it was a tough situation to go into because I knew we weren't that talented. I knew we were going to struggle and quite honestly, I didn't want to take the job. But somebody had to," said Burke.

Asked what he learned from his Winnipeg experience, Burke said all the losing his team did led him to one overriding conclusion.

"The thing I probably learned the most is you need a substantial amount of talent to be successful. And you've got to be good at quarterback to have a chance to be a winner."

Burke said he feels no animosity towards the Bombers and is looking forward to his return this week.

"I really enjoyed Winnipeg and I loved the fans," said Burke. "If you asked me what I missed most about Winnipeg it's the fans...They were tremendously supportive...

"It will be emotional in that respect for me."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 25, 2014 C3

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