CFL: 2011 Winnipeg Blue Bombers Training Camp Ends; Camp To Open Sunday
It's been three long days, many new faces, some familiar but all reaching for the same thing—and that is a spot on the Bombers 2011 roster.
Today marked the end of rookie camp for the CFL franchise and at this time, so far only one casualty, wide receiver Bobby Guillory.
There were ups, downs, highlights and forgettable moments throughout camp as they prepare for the official training camp which opens this Sunday at 9:30 for walk-throughs and 10:30 for start of practice.
The most noticeable issues at camp were the dropped passes, lack of route running and the overall jitters of rookies looking to find their spot on the team.
New in camp this year were three highly touted draft picks, including the first overall pick, Henoc Muamba, a 6'0" 230-pound machine at linebacker from St. Francis.
There was a snag just before camp opened, however both sides were able to agree to a deal which allowed fourth overall pick Jade Etienne to make the trip to camp.
Unfortunately for Kito Poblah, the first pick in the supplemental draft, he was unable to take in the last three days as the two sides worked vigorously to get a deal done. All signs point to Poblah making it to training camp Sunday.
There is no question that the club is looking to go young, fresh and mean, while keeping experienced players on the line to assist the rookies.
And then there's the No. 1 question heading into camp of star quarterback Buck Pierce, who injured his elbow at last year's Labour Day Classic after a fluke fall. Folks, Pierce is back and looking stronger than ever.
All four quarterbacks competed at camp. Aside from Pierce, Alex Brink looked the sharpest with many of his throws and reads. Whether the team releases one of the QBs is unknown, but depth-wise should fall to Pierce, Brink, Elliot and then Goltz.
Some highlights from camp would be newcomers Damian Sherman and Josh Bishop. Both players have yet to hit the field in a game, however looked sharp through rookie camp.
Sherman had the luxury of attending the mini-camp held by the club early in April and it has paid dividends for the 6'0" 213-pound receiver. His time spent allowed him to be able to open up his playbook and feels all that's left for him is to get one-on-one with the quarterbacks and create a relationship.
You could also make a case for newcomer Liam Mahoney, who was selected 41st overall in the 2011 CFL draft. Mahoney comes from Concordia and during his collegiate career as a quarterback, he earned 2007 CIS Rookie of the Year honours. Two years ago he made the switch to receiver with quite a splash, pulling in 94 receptions totaling 1,208 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Defensively, Henoc Muamba will look to make a statement this year whether he is placed on special teams or finds himself on the defensive side of things. Tim Burke, the new defensive coordinator for the Bombers, will work to ensure Muamba is poised and ready to go come season time.
Whether or not Tim Brown will be ready for camp Sunday or the regular season will remain to be seen, as he injured his foot during mini-camp, but he was not in a boot during rookie camp.
There is plenty of competition this year at camp as well, such as rookie Rico McCoy pursuing the spot of Joe Lobendahn. Two more rookies looking for spots are CJ James and Leslie Majors.
With a quality stock of rookies, returning players like highlight-reel Greg Carr and TJ Harris and veterans like Terrence Edwards and Doug Brown, the team can feel confident heading into the regular season.
The Bombers will play their last season at Canad Inns, and general manager Joe Mack and head coach Paul LaPolice will look to please the fans this season. Look out folks, the era of the Bombers is about to begin.
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