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Thursday, July 24, 2014



Another week, another big test for Mike Reilly and the surprising Edmonton Eskimos.

Last weekend, Reilly and Co., faced the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a battle of 3-0 clubs. Reilly threw for 192 yards and a TD and added a game-high 96 yards rushing while the Eskimos defence recorded five sacks en route to a convincing 26-3 victory.

The Eskimos (4-0) will host their arch rivals, the Calgary Stampeders (3-0), on Thursday night as the Battle of Alberta becomes a showdown between the CFL's lone two remaining undefeated squads. Not bad for an Edmonton team that won just four games last year.

Reilly has played a big role in Edmonton's transformation. The second-year starter is third overall in passing yards (930) but has completed a solid 65.5 per cent of his passes and thrown a league-best eight touchdowns. He's also a dual threat, standing sixth overall in rushing with a team-leading 199 yards and is averaging 8.3 yards per attempt.

However Reilly will have to share the spotlight with Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who is on a CFL record pace.

A win would be Mitchell's seventh straight to begin his CFL career, which would tie the league mark currently held by former Stampeders star Jeff Garcia. The third-year pro has been solid for Calgary, having thrown for 781 yards with six TDs against no interceptions, joining Ottawa's Henry Burris as the only league starters not to have been picked off.

Mitchell also sports the CFL's top efficiency rating of 116.2.

Reilly and Mitchell are also surrounded by a solid supporting cast. Edmonton and Calgary are both averaging over 100 yards rushing per game - an impressive accomplishment for the Stampeders considering they'll again be minus CFL MVP Jon Cornish (concussion).

Calgary has also done a solid job of protecting Mitchell, allowing a league-low three sacks.

Edmonton counters with a defence that's recorded a league-best 18 sacks, not a surprise given rookie head coach Chris Jones' reputation for being innovative in how he designs and disguises his pressure packages. The Eskimos have also recorded a CFL-leading nine interceptions, six more than their closest rival.

But Calgary's defence isn't exactly chopped liver, either. It's first overall in fewest points allowed (10 per game), touchdowns (one), rushing yards (71 per game), is tied with B.C. and Toronto for fewest rushing TDs (one) and hasn't surrendered a passing touchdown this season.

And although the Stampeders have 10 sacks - which leaves them tied for sixth overall with expansion Ottawa - they do still have Charleston Hughes, who posed a league-leading 18 sacks last year.

Calgary has dominated the series of late, having amassed a 15-5 head-to-head record dating back to '08, although 11 contests have been decided in the final three minutes. Here's expecting that trend to continue.

Prediction - Calgary.


Winnipeg (3-1) received a huge wakeup call last weekend. Its defence was on the field for almost 39 minutes against Edmonton, which kept the CFL's top-scoring offence on the sidelines for most of the contest. Defensive back Johnny Sears and defensive lineman Jason Vega are doubtful although receiver Aaron Kelly resumed practising after missing the game against Edmonton with a knee injury.

The Bombers surrendered five sacks versus Edmonton and face a resurgent B.C. squad (2-2) that's won two straight and looked very good doing so. Quarterback Kevin Glenn, who threw six interceptions in the Lions' opening two losses, passed for 301 yards and two TDs in last week's 41-5 win over Montreal. Emmanuel Arceneaux had eight catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns while Stefan Logan and Andrew Harris added 74 and 72 yards rushing, respectively. On July 12, Harris accumulated 203 offensive yards in a 26-13 win over Saskatchewan 26-13. At halftime, B.C. will add Geroy Simon, the most prolific receiver in CFL history, to its Ring of Honour.

Prediction - B.C.


Brett Maher booted six field goals, including the winner, as the expansion Redblacks (1-2) won their home opener 18-17 over the Toronto Argonauts. It marked Ottawa's first CFL home victory since November 2005 and moved the club into a tie with Toronto (1-3) and Montreal (1-3) atop the East Division. But that doesn't mask Ottawa's offensive struggles this season as it's averaging just 19 points per game. The unit has scored just four TDs and didn't find the end zone against Toronto.

However, a good equalizer could be quarterback Henry Burris, who led Hamilton to a Grey Cup appearance last year before being released this off-season. Hamilton (0-3) hasn't set the CFL on fire offensively in Burris's absence, currently ranked last in offensive yards (213.3 per game) and scoring (13.7 points). But the Ticats were a mishandled snap away from kicking the tying field goal last week against Calgary before ultimately dropping a 10-7 decision. Starter Zach Collaros (concussion) resumed practising this week but won't play. Hamilton was supposed to officially open Tim Hortons Field but will play at McMaster University due to construction delays.

Prediction - Hamilton


On July 5, Toronto (1-3) hammered Saskatchewan (1-2) at Rogers Centre 48-15. Argos quarterback Ricky Ray threw for over 400 yards and three TDs that afternoon. Twenty of his 29 completions were to Chad Owens (11), Andre Durie (five) and Jason Barnes (four) for a combined 275 yards and two touchdowns. That's worth noting because all three receivers are injured and won't play.

Ray remains the CFL passing leader with 1,280 yards after throwing for 298 yards last week in Ottawa but had more interceptions (first two of the season) than TD strikes (one). It's been a miserable start to the year for defending Grey Cup champion Saskatchewan as quarterback Darian Durant has a 55.3 per cent completion average with almost as many interceptions (four) as touchdowns (five). But Durant and Co. will remember what happened the last time they faced Toronto, and this time they will have a loud Mosaic Stadium gathering solidly behind them.

Prediction - Saskatchewan.

Record so far: 7-9

(Canadian Press)


The 1-2 Saskatchewan Roughriders held Day 2 of their practice week on Wednesday as they prepare to host the 1-3 Toronto Argonauts on Saturday at Mosaic Stadium (8:00 pm, TSN, CKRM Rider Radio Network).  The team rotated through running backs Anthony Allen, Will Ford and Jerome Messam on Wednesday while first year back Keith Toston ran with the scout team.

Toston (pronounced TOAST-In) was arguably the Riders' most productive running back in the preseason but hasn't had a chance to play in the regular season.  He was asked how the running back "carousel" affects the team.

"It don't affect a whole lot," Toston explained.  "Most of the guys are like brothers when it comes to the running back group so we just try to stick together.  Whoever gets the reps, we just try to cheer that guy on.  We all go through the same amount of sweat and same amount of pain to be in this position to try to play.  We won't have a rivalry against a teammate."

The Oklahoma State product was asked his thoughts on the team's starting running backs being benched, or cut, after fumbling the ball away.

"That's a tough deal," Toston admitted.  "I've disagreed with that since I got into professional football.  But that's the nature of the business - you can't turn the ball over.  That's understandable.  You train so hard, and by just one mess up, you could be over there watching the game.  But I can see both sides of it."

I told Allen I was impressed that he came back after the bye week since he hasn't had the opportunity yet to show what he can do.  He had considered leaving in the past, but has decided to keep his dream alive and didn't consider staying in the U.S. last week.

"No," Toston revealed.  "I feel like my coaches and teammates see me practice hard every time we're out here so I feel like I should be here and I still am here.  I'm just waiting for my chance, that's it.  When I get my chance, I'll make the best of it."

Toston stood in the media scrum and handled the pointed questions with class.  Rider Radio analyst Carm Carteri asked Keith how it felt to see veterans Hugh Charles and Jerome Messam come in and be placed on the roster immediately while he sits in the shadows.

"That's tough," Toston continued.  "But I understand our number one thing here is to try to win a game.  I respect it and I'll just keep pushing to get an opportunity."

The Riders aren't tipping their hand as to who will start in the backfield on Saturday.  Head coach Corey Chamblin says their evaluations continue ahead of the game.

"I think every back that was out there got a touch today," Chamblin said after the workout.  "As we go down the stretch we have to make sure that more than one guy can play.  I really can't tell you who'll start and that's an honest opinion.  Those guys are doing a good job rotating through and it depends on how we end up liking our packages and different things."

Meanwhile slotback Chris Getzlaf missed the practice as he continues to recover from a lower body injury.  His status for Saturday's game is uncertain.


BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (AP) - Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery understands expectations are soaring. He's not backing away from them, either.

The Bears are aiming high, hoping to return to the playoffs after missing out for the sixth time in seven years, going into their third training camp under Emery. Practices start Friday.

"Our goal as an organization is to win championships,'' Emery said Wednesday. "We have fallen short since I've been here. That doesn't mean we're going to change our goal. That's what we're focused on. We're very aggressive toward attaining that goal and we're very accountable as an organization to make the necessary adjustments to stay on path toward our goal.''

That will hinge largely on how a rebuilt defence that now includes five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen comes together. The Bears couldn't stop anyone last season, and it added up to an 8-8 record and a spot in front of the TV when the post-season started.

Now, they anticipate bigger things.

They see a defence with star power and depth after bringing in Allen. And they see an offence that excelled in its first year under coach Marc Trestman returning all its starters. And they see no reason not to aim high, not to think they can overtake Green Bay in the NFC North and advance in the post-season.

That's not to say Emery is ready to plan the championship parade just yet.

There still are some holes at linebacker and safety, and if quarterback Jay Cutler gets injured again, the Bears won't have Josh McCown to turn to this time. What they do have, however, looks promising.

"We recognize as a football team, the excitement around our team, the community's excitement around our football team and what I (describe) as the noise that goes on around us,'' Trestman said. "For us here in Bourbonnais, we've got to stay focused on the process. We've got to keep our feet on the ground.''

The Bears return all their starters from an offence that ranked among the most prolific a year ago. Only Denver scored more points last season, and with Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte leading the way, Chicago appears to be in good shape on that side of the ball.

The backup quarterback spot is a question mark with McCown now in Tampa Bay and Jordan Palmer trying to hold off Jimmy Clausen and David Fales. The same goes for backup running back, a spot that Emery said is "very unsettled.''

The big question is the defence, which ranked 30th overall last season. Allen, linebacker Lance Briggs and cornerback Charles Tillman are all in their 30s.

The safety spot is a big concern after Chris Conte and the departed Major Wright struggled last season. Briggs aside, linebacker remains a question mark for the Bears.

But if the rebuilt line can apply pressure and stop the run, it will take the load off the other parts of the defence. That starts with Allen, who replaces the departed Julius Peppers. The Bears are counting on him to ignite a non-existent pass rush after tying Jacksonville with a league-low 31 sacks. Chicago also ranked last against the run.

But that defence has a decidedly different look now. Besides Allen, they brought in defensive end Lamarr Houston and added to their secondary, drafting cornerback Kyle Fuller in the first round and adding Adrian Wilson, Ryan Mundy and M.D. Jennings to the mix at safety.

All those moves sent expectations soaring.

"We try not to let it affect us,'' Cutler said. "But obviously being out in the city and being around people you can tell how excited they are, how ready they are for this season. We can't let that kind of seep into our mindset. We haven't done anything yet. We've got to take this camp seriously and get out of it as much as we can.''

NOTES: Emery said RG Kyle Long has a viral infection and won't be ready for the start of practices on Friday and will be re-evaluated next week. LG Matt Slauson (shoulder surgery) and RT Jordan Mills (broken foot) are cleared, and S Craig Steltz, who had groin surgery, is expected to be ready for the first practice. Emery also said Conte, coming off shoulder surgery, will not start practicing until after the first preseason game.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Calgary at Edmonton

Winnipeg at BC

Ottawa at Hamilton
Toronto at Saskatchewan

BALLSY (12-4): EDM - BC - OTT - SK
SILVER FOX (11-5): EDM - BC - OTT - SK
SCRUFFY (11-5): EDM - BC - OTT - SK
SHARKY (10-6): CGY - BC - OTT - SK
ABOU (9-7): CGY - WPG - HAM - SK
SAM (9-7): EDM - BC - OTT - SK
PHIL (9-7): EDM - BC - OTT - SK
LUC (8-8): CGY - WPG - HAM - SK
R.P. (8-8): EDM - BC - OTT - SK
LYNCH (8-8): TBD
SCHULTZ (8-8): EDM - BC - HAM - SK
CARM (7-9): CGY - BC - OTT - SK
COIN (7-9): CGY - WPG - OTT - SK

*Winner gets a $100 gift certificate to the Press Box Sports Bar!


TORONTO – The Canadian Football League announced today that it has fined the following players:

Ottawa REDBLACKS fullback Patrick Lavoie for a late hit in which he led with his helmet on a punt return during Friday night’s game against the Toronto Argonauts.

Edmonton Eskimo defensive end Elie Ngoyi for punching an opponent during Thursday night’s game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

BC Lions defensive end Khreem Smith for his participation in a pre-game altercation with an opposing player prior to Saturday’s game against the Montreal Alouettes.

As per league policy, the amounts of the fines were not disclosed.


The Saskatoon Blades look to be going on a powerplay after changes to their scouting system.

Veteran leader Doug Molleken, 54, has signed a two year extension and will direct his focus on Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the United States as Director of Scouting, Eastern Region. The long-time head scout for the Blades will be surrounded by a few of his old birddogs and a lot of new talent.

Doug's partner will be Dan Tencer, 28, promoted from regional scout to Director of Scouting, Western Region, responsible for Alberta and British Columbia. Before coming to the Blades in 2013, Tencer was the host of the Edmonton Oilers Radio Network and Inside Sports for 7 years on Corus Radio, where he still co-hosts a radio show.

Both men will report directly to Managing Partner Colin Priestner, who will oversee the bantam and European drafts, working closely with General Manager Bob Woods and Assistant General Manager Steve "Hilty" Hildebrand.

This trio has already demonstrated its effectiveness working together with what independent observers noted was an impressive performance at the 2014 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft. The three were point men at the Blades draft table, selecting a total of 12 players. After the last name was called, the influential Western Elite Hockey Prospects group was quick to applaud the Blades' performance, stating, "The Saskatoon Blades didn't have a first round selection this year but that didn't stop them from having one of the top drafts."

"The amount of scouting, research and conversations those three led put the Blades in a great position heading into that draft. Their work, combined with the reporting of our other scouts, led to the success we realized at the draft," says Blades President Steve Hogle, who was eyewitness to both the work leading up to the draft as well as the decisions made at the draft table.

"This structure for scouting puts the organization in a great position for years to come," adds GM Bob Woods. "Their passion is unrivalled, their organization is impressive and their talent is evident in the results."

Highly respected Saskatoon-based scout Frank Dryka and Winnipeg's Scott Unger are both back with the Blades and they are joined by a number of new scouts, each with impressive resumes.

"The quality of our people is absolutely stellar and they've already shown their input is outstanding. We're also going to employ cutting edge systems with the view to use another weapon to gain the edge on the competition," adds Managing Partner Colin Priestner. "We are out for more than respect. We are out to win."


The Saskatchewan Roughriders have added the following players:
· International defensive back Woodny Turenne
· National defensive back Matt Webster


The Calgary Stampeders have placed national running back Jon Cornish on the six-game injury list. The reigning Most Outstanding Player in the Canadian Football League has been out of action since suffering a concussion in a Week 1 victory over the Montreal Alouettes.
Cornish would be eligible to return on Sept. 6 when the Stamps play in Edmonton although the team has the right to activate him prior to that date if the situation allows.
"Jon continues to make progress in his recovery but we understand the importance of being extremely careful with this type of injury and we want to make sure Jon has all the time he needs to get completely healthy," said Stampeders general manager and head coach John Hufnagel. "We look forward to having Jon back in the lineup and, in the meantime, other players have stepped up in his absence. I'm confident that will continue to be the case."


Voice of the Pats Phil Andrews
I'm on a boat in Northern Saskatchewan catching Jack and Pickerel but here are some thoughts on this Wednesday:

- I am crossing my fingers that the Pats won't announce their new head coach this week when I'm gone. However knowing my luck the announcement will come in the next few days.

- Former Head Coach Malcolm Cameron has joined the coaching staff of the Okanagan Hockey Academy. Here is the article on his hire. http://okanaganhockey.com/about/news/cameron-joins-oha-staff/

- Pats forward Dryden Hunt is headed to the Carolina Hurricanes Development Camp later this week. I've heard he also had an invite from Calgary but decided to go with the Canes.

- Four terrible games in the CFL this last weekend. Edmonton clobbered Winnipeg on Thursday, no contest. Then Ottawa's home opener against Toronto Friday was a snoozefest. At least the atmosphere seemed good in the nation's capital. Calgary beat Hamilton 10-7 on Friday and the score is self explanatory. And to cap it all off, Montreal was atrocious in BC losing 41-5. The only good game we've seen in the last two weeks is Winnipeg's comeback win over Montreal. I know the start of the year is usually sub-par but I don't remember it ever being this bad. Bring on the NFL. Here's hoping it gets better in Week 5.

- Dwight Anderson is coming back to Regina on Saturday. Should be fun to see how he carries himself on and off the field.

- The Blue Jays got spanked on Monday at home to Boston. Drew Hutchison should not pitch at Rogers Centre. He is 2-5 at home plus a no decisions. He is 4 and 4 on the road and his ERA is light years better. At least they bounced back with a big 7-3 win on Tuesday. I've still got hope for the post season. Would love to see a starting pitcher come over in a trade. Plus they need to get healthy.

- The East Division leading Regina Red Sox have clinched a playoff spot. Congrats to Scottie Douglas and the team. Well done.

- Stanley Cup Champion with the Los Angeles Kings, Jarret Stoll will be bringing the cup to Saskatoon in early August. Here's the info:

That's it from me today. Have a good week.



Regina, Saskatchewan – Regina Pats Senior VP and General Manager Chad Lang announced Pats import defenceman Dmitry Sinitsyn has signed a professional contract with the KHL’s Dynamo Moscow.

Sinitsyn was the Pats’ 16th Overall selection in the 2013 CHL Import Draft and played his first WHL season in 2013-14.  The Moscow, RUS product suited up for 69 games while posting 44 points (10G, 34A) to lead the Pats defence in scoring over his rookie campaign.  His 44 points were tenth among WHL rookies and third among rookie defenders.  That performance led the Pats defender to be named the Pats’ Rookie of the Year.

Drafted in the 7th round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars, Sinitsyn attended Dallas’ Development Camp in Frisco, TX July 9th-12th.

Including Sinitsyn, the Pats currently have three import players on their roster with the other two slots being held by German forward Maximilian Kammerer and Russian defender Sergey Zborovsky.


TORONTO - B.C. Lions running back Andrew Harris is the CFL's top Canadian for the second week in a row while teammate Emmanuel Arceneaux is the league's top offensive player of the week.

The pair were consistently dangerous in the Lions' decisive 41-5 win over Montreal on Saturday. Arceneaux caught eight receptions for 145 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, while Winnipeg native Harris had four receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown and 12 carries for 72 yards.

Harris currently is the league leader in rushing yards with 273 yards, sits third in the league in receiving yards with 245 and is tied for second in the league with three touchdowns.

Edmonton defensive end Odell Willis is the defensive player of the week. He recorded his first career interception and returned it for his first career touchdown in the Eskimos' 26-3 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Thursday. He also had two tackles, including a sack.

Ottawa Redblacks kicker and punter Brett Maher is the special teams player of the week. Maher hit a 27-yard field goal with under a minute to play in the game as the Redblacks earned their first franchise win, beating the Toronto Argonauts 18-17 on Friday.

Maher also kicked field goals from 48, 32, 30, 26 and 22 yards.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


The Saskatchewan Roughriders today announced international running back Will Ford has joined the teams practice roster. 
Ford (5'11 – 195) is a three year CFL veteran after originally entering the league in 2012 with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Last season the South Carolina State product was named an East Division All-Star after running for 594 yards and two touchdowns on 113 carries while adding seven receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown in 13 regular season games with the Bombers. The 27-year-old also had 45 kickoff returns for 1,047 yards and two touchdowns including a 100 yard long return. He was twice named CFL Special Teams Player of the Week following performances in week 11 and 15.


Saskatchewan Roughriders GM Brendan Taman made his weekly appearance on 620 CKRM's SportsCage on Monday and discussed the state of his 1-2 Riders as they return from the bye week for Tuesday's closed practice at Mosaic Stadium.  Here are his quotes:


BT:  You've gotta pace yourself in this business and our coaches took three or four days off and then came back at the end of last week.  J.O. and I took a couple days off and tried to take it easy but in our business, it never stops.  You can field an agent's call or a trade call or maybe somebody's injury isn't coming around.  Who knows?  I don't know if it ever stops but I just looked at it as another week to our off-season.  We did quite a bit of work.


BT:  I'll tell you exactly what happened.  Obviously Winnipeg released him last Monday and he was talking to some other teams in the league.  We'd gotten ahold of him Monday and that was our first contact with him.  We'd planted a seed that we were looking at running backs and we may have an interest with the way it was going.  He had some interest from another team and made it known he wasn't going there and jumped the gun a bit regarding a signing bonus from us and all that.  We were on a bye week so why would we sign him then?  We weren't playing.  At the end of the day, he flew in Sunday night, he's going to take a physical, and then we'll sit down with him Tuesday morning.  He will practice on Tuesday, but I don't know what his status will be; practice roster or 44-man roster.  News travels fast in this business and we weren't as far down the road with him as people thought we were but some people in this business have a big mouth and that's just the way it is.


BT:  The message is easy; WIN.  Go out and win.  We're just not playing smart or technically sound right now.  It frustrates our coaches to the inth degree because we're better than what we've shown and we all know that but until they show it, we've got to get on them a little bit.  We'll be fine.  We've just gotta play smart, efficient, within the system and make plays.  We just haven't been doing that the past couple weeks.  A play here or a play there, we might've won those games.

Our guys have shown throughout their careers, wherever they've been, that they can make these plays but we as an organization always have show that, when players like Will Ford become available, if we can upgrade our team, we'll have to look into that.  We're not going to have a fire sale or wholesale changes but we're always looking to upgrade our team.  We wanted him in free agency but the money was out of whack.  It's not like we took a guy off the scrap heap.  We had interest in him for quite awhile.

When we had guys fumbling the ball, we had an opening to look into some people.  That's the way this business works, no matter what position it is.  Anthony Allen and the likes are still here and Will will join that group and we'll see what comes out of it.


BT:  I've known Corey for quite some time as you well know and after the BC game, I wouldn't say he was dejected, but he was pretty hot.  He was very frustrated and disappointed in how we were playing.  Since then he's had a chance to review, refocus and re-energize and he's very focused.  He's very expectant of our team to play better.  He's not dejected, I can tell you that, but he's not upbeat either.  He's very focused on being geared to win a football game this week.  When he's geared up and focused, a lot of good things happen.


On Monday the Saskatchewan Roughrider Plaza of Honor Committee announced a new member will be inducted into the Plaza of Honor. This year Reggie Hunt will join the previously announced Chris Szarka in having their names forever etched into Saskatchewan Roughrider history.
Due to travel and timing difficulties, Omarr Morgan has been removed as an inductee for 2014. Morgan remains eligible and will be reconsidered for future induction.   Plaza committee chairman explained why on Monday's SportsCage on 620 CKRM.

"We've tried phoning, we've tried emailing, we've tried going through former coaches and teammates," Lipp explained.  "But we just can't seem to get him to respond to us."

That suits Reggie Hunt just fine.  The TCU grad was a multiple Division All-Star and All-Canadian during his six year career with the Riders (2002-2007) plus a Grey Cup champion.

"I was more than excited to receive this honour," Hunt told the SportsCage on Monday.  "I understand there were circumstances that came about but they reassured me that it was inevitable and it was going to happen anyway so I was more than happy to jump on board there."
Besides being Saskatchewan's most prestigious sporting dinner, the Plaza of Honor Dinner has contributed over $6 million to the Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club.
The Plaza of Honor Dinner presented by SaskTel has inducted 116 individuals who have made major contributions to the proud tradition of the Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club. The club has also inducted the 1966, 1989 and 2007 Grey Cup championship teams.
The cairn honouring the Plaza of Honor Inductees is situated outside the main gates on the west side of Mosaic Stadium. The Plaza of Honor cairn is sponsored by SaskTel, SASK SPORT INC. and the City of Regina.
This year's dinner is set for Friday, September 19th at the Credit Union Eventplex – Evraz Place. To accommodate a much larger audience, the event will once again take place in the Eventplex and will allow patrons a spacious opportunity with a large reception area throughout the evening to meet and greet friends and associates.


WINNIPEG (CP) - The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were back on the field Monday for the first time since they fell 26-3 to the Edmonton Eskimos last week, their first loss of the season, and with five quarterbacks throwing balls it looked at times like training camp all over.

In some ways, maybe it is, because the Bombers know they have to find ways to correct flaws in their game that Mike Reilly and the Eskimos did a very handy job of exploiting.

"It might have been a little bit of a wake-up call,'' said Winnipeg quarterback Drew Willy, who was sacked five times as his offence was held to just one field goal.

"Obviously they are a good defence but we need to play better over all to give our defence a chance, because they played really well.''

And a lot. Winnipeg's defence was on the field for more than 38 minutes, their offence just over 21 in the lopsided game that went bad early.

It isn't encouraging that two key starters on that defence could be missing in action when the Bombers visit the B.C. Lions on Friday. Coach Mike O'Shea says defensive back Johnny Sears and lineman Jason Vega are doubtful.

He says Sears has a hamstring issue that will be evaluated later in the week while Vega has a few ailments that likely will keep him off the field.

The coach wasn't pushing the panic button, however.

"We've also got guys that have been practising very, very hard behind them,'' he said. "We're set up nicely depth-wise on defence, that's for sure.''

On Monday, the Bombers also shuffled players on their offensive line and they got their newest quarterback into the game, as Josh Portis learns Winnipeg's offence. He was picked up last week from the Toronto Argonauts to add CFL experience to their backup pool.

"I've learned a lot, being in Toronto,'' Portis said after practice, praising Ricky Ray as a great teacher.

"The game is different up here,'' he added. "You've just got to pay attention to small details and the dimensions of the game, the angles of the game are a little different.''

With Mason Mills on Winnipeg's practice roster, plus backups Robert Marve and Brian Brohm, who have been around since rookie camp, the Bombers now have five pivots.

Receiver Aaron Kelly was practising again Monday and says he feels fine after being sidelined last week with a swollen knee, but O'Shea says they will also decide whether he's ready to return later in the week.

While the Bombers are coming off that 26-3 home loss to Edmonton, the Lions are riding high after their 41-5 thumping of the Montreal Alouettes.

This Friday also has been officially declared Geroy Simon Day in Vancouver, to honour the receiver who helped lead the Lions to two Grey Cups and added one more ring to his collection with the Saskatchewan Roughriders last year before retiring.

Simon, who spent his first two seasons with the Bombers before joining B.C., is the CFL's all-time career leader in receiving yards with 16,352, ranks first in pass receptions with 1,029 and third in touchdown receptions with 103.

The Bombers also added two more players to their practice roster Monday, international running back Sam McGuffie and Canadian linebacker Kyle Jones.

Jones is in his sixth season in the CFL, with stints in Hamilton, B.C. and Toronto. He has a career 34 special teams tackles and seven defensive tackles.

"Not only can he play special teams and do that well for you, he can get you out of a game in a lot of different spots,'' said O'Shea, Toronto's former special team's co-ordinator before he took over the Bombers.,

"One thing he can't do is snap to himself, hold it and kick his own field goal. But I haven't asked him to do that, so maybe he can.''

That may not be a talent he needs in Winnipeg.

Rookie kicker Liram Hajrullahu was pressed into handling punting duties for the Bombers last week as well, after Mike Renaud injured himself during practice. The Bombers didn't suffer for the switch, with his 10 punts averaging just over 45 yards, a little better than Renaud this season.

Hajrullahu says he feels comfortable handling both but wants to get better at punting, which is more complicated.