June 10, 2019 7:43 pm

‘Friday night was a long night’: Blue Bombers GM explains final cuts

Winnipeg Blue Bombers general manager Kyle Walters discusses the team's final cuts.

Randall Paull / Global News
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After three weeks of training camp that included a pair of pre-season victories, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers finalized their roster over the weekend.

There were a few minor surprises, but nothing too earth-shattering as five returning players were among the 17 players who were cut outright.

“They’re all difficult,” general manager Kyle Walters said. “When you sit in there, that Friday night was a long night.”

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The Bombers brass faced a number of difficult decisions, but perhaps the toughest surrounded their third-string quarterback position. The Bombers opted to go with Sean McGuire over the incumbent Bryan Bennett, and age may have been the deciding factor.

“Bryan and Sean had good training camps,” Walters said. “We just decided to go with the younger guy, but it was a real difficult decision ’cause Bryan showed improvement and growth. As I said, that was a real, real difficult decision.”

READ MORE: Winnipeg Blue Bombers make another round of cuts before cutdown day

Other returning players — defensive tackle Brandin Bryant, defensive back Tyneil Cooper, and receiver Corey Washington — were among the victims of cutdown day. The club also walked away from their second-round pick in the 2018 CFL draft, releasing receiver Rashaun Simonise, who was quickly signed by the BC Lions soon after.

“I think Rashaun still has a bright future in our league,” Walters said. “At the end of the day, he was the fourth of the four Canadians behind Drew (Wolitarsky) and Nic (Demski), and Daniel Petermann had a strong camp. We asked him to stick around on the practice roster and he chose not to. But it’s as simple as,  it’s a competition and he was the fourth of the four.”

WATCH: Raw Kyle Walters Media Conference

The Bombers carried four Canadian receivers on their game-day roster last season, and with only three now left on the team, the Bombers do have interest in Winnipeg native Anthony Coombs, a receiver who was just cut by the Toronto Argonauts.

“That’s a name on the list with a lot of other guys that we’re certainly looking at to see where they can fit in, if we think they can upgrade the roster,” Walters said.

READ MORE: Winnipeg Blue Bombers close out pre-season with win over Saskatchewan Roughriders

Now that the roster is set, head coach Mike O’Shea has to finalize the injured list prior to Saturday’s season opener in B.C. against the Lions. Players like Demski, Chris Matthews and Patrick Neufeld all missed time in training camp.

“Mike would probably punch me in the face if I gave any sort of indication of Pat Neufeld’s availability,” Walters said.

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