Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–3–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Willy greener than St. Patrick's Day

But, being a clever lad, he'll learn quickly at quarterback

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The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have been aggressively selling Drew Willy to their faithful from the moment they landed him in a February trade.

And so the fact the Blue and Gold's new starting quarterback is greener than St. Paddy's Day in Dublin is hardly a headline.

But the decision to release Max Hall on Friday -- the greybeard of the team's QB crew with nine career starts -- did raise some eyebrows across the Canadian Football League, because it leaves the club short on live-fire experience on the battlefield.

Resumé

Yes, between Willy (four starts), new No. 2 man Brian Brohm (0) and rookie third-stringer Robert Marve (0), the Bombers' collective CFL resumé can be confined to just a few paragraphs.

But when that subject was broached to head coach Mike O'Shea Friday, he stiff-armed the concern away quickly.

"No it's not (a concern)," O'Shea said. "They're getting better every day. Do they need experience? Absolutely. But I think Drew has shown when he's got in there against (first-team) defences, he's moved the ball effectively, he's got a good completion percentage, he's accurate -- he's proven all camp he's very accurate.

"He's making throws we want him to make. He's making decisions we want him to make. And he's hungry to get better."

Hall, the former Arizona Cardinals starter who made nine starts last season for the Bombers, struggled in the pre-season -- six of 14 for 53 yards with no TDs and a fourth-quarter interception in Calgary. Brohm and Marve, meanwhile, both threw for touchdowns and were effective in moving the offence.

With the strong-armed Marve pencilled into the third spot, Hall essentially lost his job to Brohm, who spent last year on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats injured list and was recommended by new Bombers assistant GM Danny McManus -- who saw him up close in Steeltown.

A former star at the University of Louisville, Brohm was a second-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2008.

"We're very pleased with Brian Brohm's upside," said O'Shea. "We felt he could make throws all over the field. His vision of the field is good and with more time, he's got quite a bit of upside. I like his demeanour too...

"He's got a certain calmness about him. There was one play in particular, a ball (dropped) and he just bent down, picked it up and resumed the play. There was no panic.

"He put his eyes back downfield to see what was going on... he just seems very even-keeled."

The Bombers have also added former University of Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Kolton Browning, who had a look-see from the Dallas Cowboys in the spring. He'll begin as the fourth-stringer, in a developmental role on the practice roster.

"Danny Mac really liked him and thought he could come in here and do well," said O'Shea.

 

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 21, 2014 C2

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