Bombers a championship team with top 3 D-fence**

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Has Barrin Simpson lost his mind?

After completing his first two practices with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers yesterday, the team's premier free-agent acquisition this winter was feeling rather confident.

The ex-B.C. Lions linebacker said the Bomber defence, which set CFL records in 2005 for most yards and passing yards surrendered in a single season, will be near the top of the statistical pile in 2006.

"We plan to be in the top three, and that's being a little modest," said Simpson. "It's a start."

For the record, "Bomber defence" and "top three" were never uttered in the same sentence last season.

Or top four.

Or top five.

The best the Bombers did in 25 defensive categories last season was sixth, and that happened only three times -- fewest passing touchdowns allowed, fewest sacks allowed and the opposition's average gain per rush.

And now Simpson thinks the Bomber D is going from the outhouse to the penthouse in a matter of months?

Simpson said the talent level on defence is "humongous," and he's confident in new defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall and the rest of the defensive coaches.


Aside from snagging Simpson in the free-agent sweepstakes, the Bombers' other off-season splashes on defence included a trade for halfback Kelly Malveaux from Montreal, bringing back defensive end Ron Warner from the NFL, signing free-agent safety Donnavan Carter and claiming linebacker Kyries Hebert off waivers from Ottawa.

Unfortunately for the Blue and Gold, Hebert is appealing that waiver claim and may never play for the club.

"I'm hoping Kyries comes on in, once he gets everything cleared up with what's going on," said Simpson. "As players, we understand some of the stuff that goes on, but I would like to see him here in camp.

"Kyries is a great player, one of the up-and-coming players with a lot of ability and a great special teams player. We need him."

In addition to the Hebert headache, veteran defensive tackle Joe Fleming retired four days ago.

Add it all up, and the question remains: Is the defence going to be good enough?

Simpson was impressed by what he saw yesterday during the first day of camp.

"We were flying around," he said. "That's the key to being a great defence: You gotta get everybody around the ball, and we've got some veteran guys who have a pretty good understanding of what's going on."

Simpson's enthusiasm is boundless. When he was walking out of the Bomber office the other day, he ran into GM Brendan Taman.

"Congratulations on putting together a championship team," Simpson yelled to the GM.

He stood by that comment yesterday.

"As the days keep rolling, we're still working to get closer and closer, day by day, to that championship," he said. "That's the goal."

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Onterrio Smith made a slick, one-handed grab over the middle and then exploded up the gut with a blast of speed.

On the next play, he made a couple cuts and turned on the jets again.

Despite reporting for Winnipeg Blue Bombers training camp 20 pounds overweight, it was easy to see why the former Minnesota Vikings running back is an NFL-calibre talent.

Unfortunately for Smith, his first practice on the first day of his first CFL training camp yesterday ended early with a foot injury.

Smith watched the rest of the first session and the second practice from the bench. It's not known if he'll be on the field today when camp resumes at Canad Inns Stadium.


Smith is officially listed as day-to-day with what's believed to be a muscular injury.

"He's been told to stay off the foot, and rest is the key here," said head coach Doug Berry.

Coincidentally, today is the day No. 1 tailback Charles Roberts is supposed to report for training camp. Roberts, who was upset Winnipeg even pursued Smith in the first place, got married on Saturday. The Bombers allowed him to miss Saturday's physicals and yesterday's first full day of practice.

Bomber brass wants Smith on the field as much as possible to get him down to his playing weight of 220 pounds.

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The incumbent No. 1 was the most impressive pivot on the field – by a mile. The second-year starter had lots of zip on the ball and was dead on most of the day. He delivered long bombs to Casey Allen and the impressive Andrae Thurman, which drew cheers from the crowd. “Kevin made real good progress, showed good leadership, and it’s obvious that he’s been a starter before,” said head coach Doug Berry. “Guys are responding to him.”

to read how the other 3 QB’s did, click the link.

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Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans sure love their team.

Despite last year's 5-13 record and a second straight season out of the playoffs, more than 300 Blue and Gold boosters showed up yesterday morning to watch the first day of training camp.

It was the biggest opening-day turnout in years.

New head coach Doug Berry, for one, was amazed at the turnout.

"On Day 1 (in Montreal) they have a scheduled fan day," Berry said of his former club, "but nobody said today was fan day. Geez, I couldn't believe it. It's really impressive."

New Bomber linebacker Barrin Simpson was excited about the turnout.

"For one thing, it makes us work harder, because we want to make sure the fans see a good product," he said. "It motivates you when your fans come out and support you. They're always a 13th man, and you want to come out here and get it done. Everybody sees the path we're trying to take."

Damn dg youve been busy. Nice work! Theyll
miss Fleming, big time.

...nope....Fleming had nothing left in the tank....he knew it...the Bombers knew it last year....his retirement was best for all...good luck Joe... :smiley:

pap i usually agree with u, but not with this. the only reason ppl say that is because he used to be amazing, now he is above average. last year once brown went down, he was double teamed, plus he was battling injuries all season. he may not be what he used to be, but IMO he still had lots left to offer. thats a tough loss, hope we can find a replacement this late in the offseason.

////well i have to disagree with you good as Joe WAS...he never regained his form... from the previous year....maybe because of injuries....but i think that excuse wore thin....How many games did Fleming miss because of the 'injuries' ....none....He looked tired and burnt out to me and maybe should have called it quits at the end of last season....I really liked the guy....but he was starting to look a lot like Wad Miller on some plays....and that is not how Joe Fleming plays the frankly....he made the right decision... just my take... :!:

Well as it goes it looks like Joe Flemming just ran out of emotion to play the game. When he came to play in Calgary he came out retirement to try it one more time. The Stamps ended up defeating the Bombers and Joe Flemming was the guy that did it for the Stamps sacking Jones. Then the Boxman years occured where Joe seemed like the defense played 35 to 40 mintues a game This went on until he ended up in a trade with Winnipeg. Then the same thing continued the defense played most of the time in the games. Basically Joe got tired and lost his drive. Good luck to him one heck of a great guy.

Winnipeg is starting to look like the most improved team in the league to me. The Joe Fleming of 2005 won't be that hard to replace IMO...Barrin Simpson is going to make it very difficult for teams to run between the tackles. They will go as far as their QB's will take them but maybe their running backs can take the heat off them. the way Glenn is playing in t.c. (yes its only t.c.) he is going to be the starter...He is performing well....throwing long balls accurately..lots of zip on the short passes...i would say he can take this team a long ways...the Bombers are going to be a thorn in the side of a lot of teams...the potential is there for a huge turn-around in 06... :smiley:

I think this team is going to be explosive on offonse, like they showed us a bit this year, but I, too disagree with the level of improvement on defense, I see them in alot of shootouts, the Montreal games should be fun too watch, good thing too, cuz there are 4 of them

Since when is "Fewest sacks allowed" a defensive category?

good to see you back dg......

go bombers go

Simpson may be exaggerating the truth to boost confidence in his new team. Everyone knows Winnipeg's weak defense needs improvement. Fans belief in an improved product might help to sell more tickets. Early in the season, players and fans are always full of optimism. Good for them.

I think Winnipeg's D has improved, but has it improved enough? If you look at all the catagories the bombers were near the bottom in everyone of them last year. I would say anywhere from 5th to 7th, but top 3 is a bit of a stretch, IMO...

Sambo, you might be right. I thought they were a force to be feared but after watching them practice tosay, I have to really wonder. Looks like Mr. Smith is just sitting on his hands waiting for his paycheck. It was windy but they did not look good. And, that makes me bleed a whole lot. Just too much distraction!

Everyone's championship material in pre-season.

I think the East will be one tough division. Hamilton and Winnipeg have made big changes, and will push Toronto and Montreal. We will see who shows up come game time.