CFL Week 1 Preview: Winnipeg Blue Bombers Optimistic Against Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Dorian McLeanContributor IIIJune 30, 2011

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers make their much-anticipated return to the football field Friday night, taking on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

The team is currently coming off a 4-14 record, but if you asked around, many players and fans would tell you that a lot of success came last year.

The team had the CFL's No. 1 rusher in Fred Reid, who just signed a contract extension. They had the No. 1 sack leader in Phillip Hunt, who signed with the NFL in the offseason.

Veteran receiver Terrence Edwards was second overall in receiving yards, playing with four quarterbacks, and looks to add another solid year under his belt. And with Buck Pierce back at full health, the possibilities are endless.

Fourth pick overall, receiver Jade Etienne, will make his regular season debut with the Blue and Gold, along with supplemental draft pick Kito Poblah. Sophomore receivers Cory Watson and Greg Carr will both look to make impacts this year with a full season ahead of them.

As for 2010 Rookie of the Year candidate Terence-Jeffers Harris, he will look to use his new build to make him a stronger receiver and become a visible threat downfield. Meanwhile, Fred Reid looks to continue where he left off last season, at the top of the rushing list and looking to find new holes.

Defensively, the Bombers added first overall draft pick Henoc Muamba to their roster, retained the services of Jonathan Hefney and Jovon Johnson,and added new faces such as Jason Vega and Leslie Majors.

And while the team did not make a lot of changes or release many veterans, each player returning will add yet another year to his name, and the club is hoping to build off their experience from last season.

Against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Bombers have not won at Ivor Wynne Stadium since Week 15 of the 2009 season, and were 1-3 against the Cats last year. They only hold one win in Week 1, last year against Hamilton. You’d have to go back to 2003 to find their next Week 1 victory.

On the Hamilton side of the ball, the Cats have not won a Week 1 game since 2004, when they beat the B.C. Lions, and former Bomber quarterback Kevin Glenn has had his own share of troubles with Week 1 games.

The club will be looking forward to ending the long streak and will need to execute at a high level if they want to accomplish this task. Expect the ground game to be executed early, while the ball gets spread out evenly throughout the night.

Jason Vega for the Bombers will have his work cut out for him, replacing Phillip Hunt’s spot at defensive end as he attempts to distract Kevin Glenn. The club feels he is ready and will take the position head-on and keep Glenn on his toes all night.

Kickoff is slated for 5PM CST and will start the road to the grey cup.