August 15, 2018

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Westerman excited about Winnipeg return

Jamaal Westerman's local fans won't be seeing him in the familiar blue and gold on Friday. (John Woods / The Canadian Press Files)</p>

Jamaal Westerman's local fans won't be seeing him in the familiar blue and gold on Friday. (John Woods / The Canadian Press Files)

He got his start in the CFL with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and quickly became one of the team’s most respected leaders over his three seasons in the Prairies.

Now, Jamaal Westerman returns to the city where it all began, only this time as an outsider and a threat to Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols. Still, the 33-year old Canadian defensive end said he is eager to return to Winnipeg on Friday, even if for fans it might be weird to see him occupy a spot on the opposite sideline with the rest of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

“I’m excited to come back to Winnipeg, where I spent the first three years of my CFL career,” Westerman said Wednesday as part of a conference call setting up Friday’s tilt.

“I know the team, I know what they stand for and I have a lot of respect for what they do there in that organization. I’m here in Hamilton and I’m excited to go in and have a great CFL game.”

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He got his start in the CFL with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and quickly became one of the team’s most respected leaders over his three seasons in the Prairies.

Now, Jamaal Westerman returns to the city where it all began, only this time as an outsider and a threat to Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols. Still, the 33-year old Canadian defensive end said he is eager to return to Winnipeg on Friday, even if for fans it might be weird to see him occupy a spot on the opposite sideline with the rest of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

"I’m excited to come back to Winnipeg, where I spent the first three years of my CFL career," Westerman said Wednesday as part of a conference call setting up Friday’s tilt.

"I know the team, I know what they stand for and I have a lot of respect for what they do there in that organization. I’m here in Hamilton and I’m excited to go in and have a great CFL game."

Westerman has had a bit of a wild ride this season and a much different experience than what he endured in Winnipeg, where he was beloved by coaches and teammates.

He opted not to sign with the Bombers this year — despite what could be considered great efforts by Winnipeg to retain him — and instead inked a deal with the Montreal Alouettes.

His appetite to join an Alouettes club that won just three games in 2017 was mostly because it meant he could play with his brother Jabar, who also plays on the defensive line.

But after just five weeks into the season — and a 1-4 start — the Alouettes traded him to Hamilton, among other pieces, in order to land quarterback Johnny Manziel.

"It was cool to sign in Montreal in free agency and have an opportunity to play with my brother," Westerman said.

"I kind of knew the organization and the team was going to struggle, but we had big plans on defence."

Westerman, who has played two games with Hamilton and has four tackles, didn’t seem to have any ill feelings towards the Alouettes for trading him.

"Once you sign a contract in football, you can’t control if you’re being traded or cut or released or whatever,’ Westerman said.

"So you just focus on wherever you end up, trying to play hard and prepare and learn your new teammates."

● ● ●

Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said he expects defensive back Maurice Leggett to play in Friday’s home game against the Ticats.

Leggett, who missed the season-opener after rehabbing a torn Achilles’ tendon he suffered late last season, hasn’t practised all week (Wednesday’s workout was closed to the public).

When you couple that with the fact the Bombers are fresh off a bye week, and it’s a bit curious as to why O’Shea is so confident about his status.

"There are certain guys on this team who probably don’t need to practise ever," the Bombers coach said.

"We’re not at that point yet, but there are guys that I would feel very comfortable with if they didn’t have to practise the rest of the season. Even then, we’d probably be good."

If Leggett is to return to action, it remains up in the air as to where he’ll actually be positioned on the field.

With the return of Chandler Fenner after a three-week hiatus from a lower-body injury, there’s a chance Fenner could return to strong-side linebacker and Leggett could then slide into a halfback position.

Either way, O’Shea understands he has a better defensive group with Leggett than without.

"He’s a good playmaker, we all know that, and this year he has certainly exhibited some very good versatility."

jeff.hamilton@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @jeffkhamilton

Jeff Hamilton

Jeff Hamilton
Multimedia producer

After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.

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