THE busiest man with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers these days might just be athletic therapist Alain Couture.
Yes, the list of walking wounded with the Bombers continues to grow in the wake of last Thursday's 26-3 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos. Head coach Mike O'Shea said after practice Monday the club will likely be without veteran defensive end Jason Vega for this Friday's game in Vancouver against the B.C. Lions because of 'various ailments.'
As well, safety/linebacker/defensive back Johnny Sears, Jr. has a hamstring issue and when asked if he would be available this week, O'Shea said "Not by the looks of it. We'll take it day-by-day with Johnny and see how he's feeling."
If both Vega and Sears, Jr. can't go, they would join slotback Cory Watson, offensive lineman Chris Greaves, punter Mike Renaud as well as long-term injured players Ryan Lucas, Graig Newman and Gord Hinse on the hurts list.
Meanwhile, receiver Aaron Woods was back at practice after missing last week's loss with a knee issue and Julian Feoli-Gudino, who did not work out, expects to be back at work on Tuesday. Woods will return to the lineup to and handle the kick-return chores while Moe Leggett was playing safety Monday in Sears' spot.
"Of course, continuity is key," said O'Shea when asked about the potential changes on defence. "But we've also got guys who have been practising very, very hard behind them and as you know with Etch's (defensive coordinator Gary Etcheverry) system, these guys all through training camp have taken reps. Kashawn Fraser stepped in when Zach (Anderson) was down and did very well. We're set up nicely depth wise on defence, that's for sure."
NEW BLUE BLOOD: The Bombers did add two more to their practice roster on Monday, bringing aboard import running back Sam McGuffie and Canadian linebacker Kyle Jones.
McGuffie (5-10, 200, Rice) has spent time on practice rosters with New England, Oakland and Arizona in the NFL. He began his college career at Michigan before transferring to Rice. After two seasons at Rice, he switched from running back to receiver as a senior in 2012 and finished with 54 receptions for 603 yards and five touchdowns.
Jones (6-2, 210 pounds, Bishop's) is in his sixth season in the CFL, playing with Hamilton, B.C., and Toronto, where his skill set drew the appreciation of O'Shea, the former Argos special teams coordinator.
"Kyle Jones is that utility player," said O'Shea. "He's a linebacker, special-teams guy that just happens to punt, kick, kickoff, snap and hold. He reminds me a lot of a good buddy of mine in Chris Hardy, who happened to be a University of Manitoba Bison quarterback and then a free safety in the CFL. I think he was the last pick overall in the draft (actually, second last in 1997) and he played 10 years because he was a terrific athlete that can do so many things.
"Kyle Jones is that guy. Not only can he play special teams and do that well for you, he can get into the game in a lot of different spots. The one thing he can't do is snap to himself, hold it and kick his own field goal... but I haven't asked him to do that, so maybe he can."
FYI: The starting offensive line in front of Drew Willy at practice Monday featured two changes, with Dan Knapp moving from right tackle to left guard and Cordaro Howard moving to Knapp's old spot. That means the O-line, left to right, featured Glenn January, Knapp, Steve Morley, Patrick Neufeld and Howard.
"Same lineup, just a different look," said Willy. "It doesn't change me at all. I go about my business the same way. We're going to get good protection, guys are going to get open and it's my job to get the ball out on time."
Willy also said the loss had everyone cranked up Monday.
"Each player's got stuff to work on. I thought we came out today and had a good practice, getting ready for B.C. Everybody's real locked in," he said. "It might have been a bit of a wake-up call.
"I definitely need to be better... just trust in certain reads and just making sure we get off to a faster start. It seemed like our energy was down a little bit and that's my job to make sure we get it going and to make sure we're productive and successful out there. If things do get a little adverse it's my job to make sure everything gets back to normal."
FYI: Saskatchewan GM Brendan Taman told Regina radio station CKRM that former Bomber RB Will Ford was to arrive in Regina Monday night and, pending a physical, will sign Tuesday.
-- Ed Tait