5 Quick Hits on Day 18 of Blue Bombers training camp:
1. HOME AGAIN: The Bombers were finally back on their home turf Tuesday morning after more than two weeks practising at the Winnipeg Soccer Federation Soccer South complex as the Canadian Premier League’s Kickoff event unfolded at IG Field.
— Winnipeg Blue Bombers (@Wpg_BlueBombers) July 27, 2021
And that’s no small thing for a club, both logistically and emotionally. First, a taste of the emotional reaction from right tackle Jermarcus Hardrick:
“To walk through the stadium, to see the banners, to see the ‘W’ everywhere gives you the chills. It makes you feel like you haven’t been home in a while. It was great to walk out and see blue everywhere. I’m excited. It almost felt like a dream.”
And the logistical element shouldn’t be forgotten, either.
“We like being on our field,” said head coach Mike O’Shea. “(Training camp) goes by so quickly, but the transitions are a little inefficient going back and forth to the other field. It served its purpose — the CPL got a good tournament in and we had no problems practising over there. But it’s nice to be home.
“The players have been walking through there on the way to lunch, so they’ve already taken a good gander at it. I did notice quite a time ago players walking through and taking pictures and filming and stuff, so I’m glad that part was over and they could just get in there and practice.”
2. HEAD COUNT: ICYMI, the Bombers released eight players on Monday: Canadian linebacker Robbie Lowes, who injured his hamstring on the first weekend of camp, American O-lineman Dino Boyd and six defensive backs — Ranthony Texada, Sam Williams, Hakeem Bailey, Jhavonte Dean, Prince Robinson and Josh Allen.
By our count, there are still 80 players in training camp. Those numbers, by position:
3. WELCOME ABOARD: The Bombers added some Canadian LB depth by bringing in Nakas Onyeka. A veteran of 36 games played with the Toronto Argonauts, Onyeka has 30 career special-teams tackles and added two sacks, both in 2019. Originally selected by the Argos in the 5th round, 36th overall, of the 2017 CFL Draft, he was released by Saskatchewan last week.
“He’s a Grey-Cup champion (from 2017),” said O’Shea. “He became available to us and we thought he was a great depth piece to add. He’s a guy that everybody’s liked from the time he was in the draft.”
Onyeka is cousins with Kene Onyeka (Ottawa) and Godfrey Onyeka (Saskatchewan).
4. GETTING NOTICED: Both Josh Johnson and Demerio Houston were getting looks at the Bombers dime back spot on Tuesday — the gig previously held by Mercy Maston, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles — and with Alden Darby on the mend.
“It’s a blessing to have the opportunity to step up and play the game I love,” said Houston. “I’m just trying to adjust to the game, adjust to the speed and learn the plays, be great at my craft and be the best I can be.”
Houston also this comment on the culture in the Bombers locker room:
“It’s a brotherhood. New guy, old guy, they bring you in with open arms from the coaching staff to the players, everybody… they bring you in and it’s a brotherhood and I love it. Yes, we’re all competing for a job, but we’re also working together to better each other. It’s bigger than just ourselves. It’s the whole team. We’re one.”
5. GETTING CLOSER: We’re getting closer and closer to the CFL season opener, right here at IG Field on August 5th. A number of fans have been asking for information on the new policies and our graphics/marketing department has come up with this handy-dandy guide:
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