Let’s see what the new guys can do

Fresh talent hits the field with real chance to play

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We've referred to the massive change to the Winnipeg Blue Bomber roster as an "extreme makeover." New head coach Mike Kelly prefers to call it a "plan of action."

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/06/2009 (4825 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

We’ve referred to the massive change to the Winnipeg Blue Bomber roster as an "extreme makeover." New head coach Mike Kelly prefers to call it a "plan of action."

And some Bomber fans — while watching the lineup purged of a number of regulars — have called it a (insert a series of very bad words followed by many exclamation points here).

So now it’s up to some of the new recruits to begin winning over the masses beginning this afternoon with the opening of three days of rookie camp; a sneak peek of sorts at the fresh meat before the whole outfit takes to the field for the first time Sunday morning.

"I know we’ve made a lot of changes, but we’re not in the minority here," began Bomber director of player personnel John Murphy. "Just look across the league. There’s been a lot of change in Hamilton. There’s been a lot of change, and some people would have thought a whole lot more change would have been done, in Toronto. Montreal hasn’t changed a whole lot. Calgary really changed or lost three people on their defensive line and cut their middle linebacker.

"It’s not like every team hasn’t made changes. Edmonton and Saskatchewan have made a crap-load of changes and B.C. cut some veteran guys over the winter they’ll have to replace.

"So, ‘change’ isn’t unique to the Bombers."

True enough. But seldom has the off-season roster adjustment been this extensive and cut this deep. And that’s why this rookie camp — which in the past often showcased just a handful of talent that looked like it would actually challenge for work — will be so intriguing to watch.

"A lot of these guys have an opportunity to push to not only make a team, but to play," Murphy explained. "It’ll be interesting to see how quickly these guys adapt to the league and what we’re asking them to do."

Canadian rookies hitting the field will be looking to impress by showcasing their versatility, their ability to adapt to the pro game and contribute on special teams.

And the Americans need to adjust lickety-split to the three-down game and all its little quirks.

"We’re looking at their ability to learn and retain information and then assimilate that from the classroom out onto the field," said Kelly. "We’re giving them a three-day crash course of Bomber football. I want to see who’s in shape, if they have stamina… we’re looking at all kinds of things. We brought in all these guys because we think they’re skilled individuals. Now we need to see how they compare with the other guys."

And if you think the new talent is all amped up to get on the field, just imagine how the new boss feels.

"I just want to get out between the white lines," said Kelly. "It’s been a fun and interesting off-season, but I want to get to what I do best and that’s coaching."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

 

 

Meet the new recruits

 

Winnipeg head coach Mike Kelly (right) will be a keen observer when Blue Bomber rookie camp opens today. Here’s the schedule (all practices are open to the public and are held at Canad Inns Stadium):

Today: Practice at 3:30 p.m.

Thursday: Practice at 7:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Friday: Practice at 7:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Saturday: Medical day, no practice

Sunday: Main training camp opens; 7:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. practices

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