The Winnipeg Blue Bombers kick off their pre-season schedule Friday at home against the Edmonton Eskimos, and though there are plenty of options to field a lineup with more than 90 players still at training camp, head coach Mike O’Shea did tip his hat at who would start under centre.
"I’m pretty sure it will be Matt (Nichols). I’ve got to sit down with Matt and ask him what he thinks and see how that marries with what we think that he needs," O’Shea said.
Nichols has said in the past that it varies on how much he prefers to play, noting whatever is good enough to get him into a proper rhythm.
Last year, he was pulled early in the second quarter of the first pre-season game, playing in six series and completing seven of 13 passes for 107 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
He suffered a knee injury the day before the second and final pre-season game in Vancouver against the B.C. Lions, which sidelined him for the first four weeks of the regular season. Nichols has said he’s never felt better heading into a training camp than he has this season.
"It’s very important," O’Shea said, when asked about the conversations he has with his QB about managing his time in the pre-season.
"He’s the one running our team out there."
BOMBERS ADD ANOTHER LOCAL: The Bombers have added to their long list of local talent, signing long-snapper Zach Greenberg to a contract.
Greenberg, who grew up in Winnipeg and played high school football at Grant Park, is coming off a four-year career at the University of Minnesota Crookston. He was active at practice Tuesday, and though deemed to be a long shot to make the team as he sits behind Chad Rempel — considered to be the best long snapper in the CFL — O’Shea said he should see some game action in the pre-season.
"We have three guys here that can long-snap, and each one of them is a little nicked up. We certainly don’t want to give Rempel all the reps in the game," O’Shea said.
"We’d like to say we’re never going to have to punt in the pre-season, but endurably you end up having to punt a few times. Give Zach an opportunity and get him in there and see what he can do and take a few reps off Remp, too. Because he is the best in the league and we’d like him to be fresh for the start of the season."
With Greenberg, the Bombers now have 10 players from Winnipeg taking part in training camp this year. The list includes running backs Andrew Harris and Brady Oliveira; offensive lineman Geoff Gray; receivers Nic Demski and Dylan Schrot; linebackers D.J. Lalama and Thomas Miles; defensive back Abu Conteh; and defensive lineman Tariq Lachance.
FENNER AT CORNER: After a 2018 campaign in which Bombers defensive back Chandler Fenner spent much of his time on the field in a special-teams role, he’s been lining up at field-side corner with the first-team defence for much of training camp, suggesting he might be headed for a starting role this year.
"He’s just so athletic and he works so hard at it. We just wanted to give him a chance to get on the field," O’Shea said. "You can play him on four special teams and you might even be able to start him (at corner) and play him on all four special teams. He’s in great shape. So, you see that and you say, let’s move him around and find out what he’s most comfortable with. Being out on the outside of the defence and looking in gives him one angle to look at. He’s athletic enough that we feel he can make a difference at that spot, maybe on plays that he wouldn’t normally be involved in."
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.
Updated on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at 9:31 PM CDT: Adds photo