October 20, 2018

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Record: 9–7–0

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Blue Bomber Report (9–7–0)

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Bombers OL Spooner suspended for drug violation

Blue Bombers offensive lineman Qadr Spooner (left) was given a two-game suspension following a positive test for methasterone, a banned substance, which is classified as an anabolic steriod. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press Files)</p>

Blue Bombers offensive lineman Qadr Spooner (left) was given a two-game suspension following a positive test for methasterone, a banned substance, which is classified as an anabolic steriod. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press Files)

The biggest news Thursday at Investors Group Field came away from the practice field when the CFL handed Blue Bombers offensive lineman Qadr Spooner a two-game suspension following a positive test for methasterone, a banned substance. The drug is classified as an anabolic steriod.

Spooner, Winnipeg’s second-round (15th overall) pick in the 2017 CFL Draft, has spent most of the past 15 months on the club’s practice roster.

The 26-year-old Brossard, Que., product was unavailable for comment but tweeted out this response to the suspension:

“I would like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers organization and Bomber fans for this unfortunate incident. I appreciate the support shown through these times and I will learn and grow from this experience. To this day, I am unable to understand how this substance found its way into my body as I have always been very careful in making sure that no banned substance enters my system and make a conscious effort to evaluate any supplement that I take. I have never taken any substance with knowledge of it containing a banned substance.

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The biggest news Thursday at Investors Group Field came away from the practice field when the CFL handed Blue Bombers offensive lineman Qadr Spooner a two-game suspension following a positive test for methasterone, a banned substance. The drug is classified as an anabolic steriod.

Spooner, Winnipeg’s second-round (15th overall) pick in the 2017 CFL Draft, has spent most of the past 15 months on the club’s practice roster.

The 26-year-old Brossard, Que., product was unavailable for comment but tweeted out this response to the suspension:

"I would like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers organization and Bomber fans for this unfortunate incident. I appreciate the support shown through these times and I will learn and grow from this experience. To this day, I am unable to understand how this substance found its way into my body as I have always been very careful in making sure that no banned substance enters my system and make a conscious effort to evaluate any supplement that I take. I have never taken any substance with knowledge of it containing a banned substance.

"However, I accept the discipline set forth by the CFL and will be even more mindful of what I put into my body."

Players who test positive face a two-game suspension for a first violation, a nine-game penalty for a second, one year for a third and a lifetime ban for a fourth.

Under the league’s policy, a suspended player cannot participate in regular-season or post-season games but it is up to the club to decide whether the suspended player can participate in activities such as training camp and practices.

BRYANT DURABLE, DOMINANT: Stanley Bryant would prefer to keep the accolades to a minimum.

"I think as a group it’s good to fly under the radar," said the CFL’s reigning most outstanding offensive lineman Thursday afternoon. "Don’t want to get mentioned too much. If we get mentioned too much it’s a bad thing. So, we’ve just gotta keep it low key and let us block and do what we do and let all the skill guys get all the limelight."

In this case, Bryant’s durability and excellence are difficult to ignore.

He hasn’t had a significant injury since an MCL tear during his senior season in college at East Carolina, way back in 2008.

The 32-year-old product from Goldsboro, N.C., has been a permanent fixture at left tackle since signing a free-agent deal with the Bombers prior to the 2015 season.

Since then, Bryant has made 72 straight regular-season starts stretching back to his final season with the Calgary Stampeders while fellow hogs Matthias Goossen (47 consecutive starts), Jermarcus Hardrick (34), Sukh Chungh (25) and Pat Neufeld (nine) all have impressive runs of uninterrupted service. It’s no surprise, then, that many observers consider Winnipeg’s five the best unit in the CFL.

EVALUATING JOHNNY FOOTBALL: Hamilton head coach June Jones tutored Johnny Manziel in training camp and as a backup quarterback before the Ticats shipped him to Montreal where the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner struggled mightily in his CFL debut as a starter for the Alouettes last week.

On Thursday, Jones was asked about Manziel’s CFL potential.

"Well, he can only get better, that’s for sure," Jones said. "I think he was rushed in. I know what Montreal went through — a lot of pressure to play him. We withstood it for two months basically. When he was ready, he’d get a chance to play but to put him in there when he wasn’t ready, that was a decision that I’m not sure was the right one.

"Hopefully Johnny will withstand it and get better from it. It sounds like he owned up to it after the game and if he does the preparation, he’s got all the skills. He can throw the ball accurately, he can get away like you can’t believe and as they get better, I think he’ll be a top quarterback up here."

SMALL MAN, BIG THREAT: he’s listed at 5-9 and 171 pounds, but second-year Ticats wideout Jalen Saunders is in the middle of a huge, breakout season.

Saunders is second in the CFL with 686 receiving yards and third in receptions with 42. He has piled up 154 and 150 receiving yards in his past two games.

"I grew up playing quarterback, honestly, so I’ve always had that, ‘Oh, that guy’s too small to play in this position or this guy is too small to be on the field’ talk, so I’ve always dealt with that," Saunders said. "You use that as fuel and motivation for your game."

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Sports Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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