June 16, 2014 5:35 pm
Updated: June 17, 2014 6:33 am

Blue Bombers slash roster – Newman done for season

Global News / Russ Hobson

WINNIPEG – The Blue Bombers have made another round of cuts, releasing five players following their three-point loss to the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday.

Among the players released were offensive lineman Chris Kowalczuk, running back Errol Brooks, defensive lineman Kenny Tate, receiver C.J. Tarver and kicker Brett Maher.

Despite suffering another pre-season loss, Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea felt his team did a lot of good things against the Stamps.

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“No two and outs, 26 first downs — should be good enough to win,” said O’Shea.

What is of concern is all the injuries. The team is still determining the full extent of Paris Cotton’s knee injury but linebacker Graig Newman, who suffered a dislocated and fractured ankle, could be lost for the entire season after having surgery on Monday.

“Graig is a guy we went after hard in the off-season.” said O’Shea. “I’m not saying he’s done for the season. I know that’s what’s been said in the report. I’m optimistic, so is he, and we’ll see him soon.”

Even with the latest cuts, there are many decisions still to be made, like who will be the backup to quarterback Drew Willy.

“We’re still in training camp mode, so we are still evaluating the Number 2 position for sure,” said O’Shea.

Punter Mike Renaud has won his starting job back and Lirim Hajrullahu has been given the place kicking job as the team cut kicker Brett Maher. Maher lost the battle for a kicking position based solely on his American passport.

“He had to win the job outright in all three phases,” said O’Shea.  “I think he drew even in all three phases. The way our roster shapes up, that wasn’t necessarily good enough.”

The Bombers now have 11 days between games before their home opener against the Argonauts — not exactly ideal for making final evaluations, but O’Shea is looking at all the positives.

“It’s exactly the way we planned it,” said O’Shea. “They couldn’t have written it better.  Gives us time to get guys healthy, gives us time to spend extra time on our opponent.”

And they’ll need it after losing all three meetings with the Argos last season.

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