The Winnipeg Blue Bombers depth will come into play very early in the 2021 CFL season. Like as in Game One.
When the defending Grey Cup champions released their game roster on Wednesday morning for Thursday’s home and season opener versus the Hamilton Tiger Cats at IG Field, nowhere to be found on the depth chart were the names of Andrew Harris, Darvin Adams, or Kyrie Wilson.
Harris, who has a suspected calf injury, was a notable absentee for almost all of the Bombers three week training camp on the U of M Campus.
Adams appeared to suffer a shoulder injury midway through camp when he fell awkwardly trying to make a catch and did not take part in any practices after that incident occurred on July 20.
And Wilson tried to play through a leg injury suffered late in camp, but obviously won’t be able to man the weak side linebacker position against the Tiger Cats in week one that he did so effectively during the 2019 season, and especially in the playoffs.
Winnipeg Head Coach Mike O’Shea told 680 CJOB’s Voice of the Bombers Bob Irving that the team’s “next man up” philosophy will certainly apply to tomorrow night’s 2019 Grey Cup Rematch.
“We bring these guys in for a reason, that they can help us win football games,” said O’Shea during his daily radio show in reference to running back Brady Oliveira, slotback Charles Nelson, and Linebacker Jontreil Rocquemore who will be the expected starters against Hamilton.
“You know those three guys (Harris, Adams and Wilson) have been doing a great job making sure the players stepping into their place are prepared to help us win football games.”
Oliveira was Winnipeg’s second round pick (14th overall) in the 2019 CFL draft out of North Dakota State. He suffered a broken ankle on a kick return in the Bombers home opener versus Edmonton in Week Three of the schedule and did not play for the remainder of the season.
Nelson’s second season with the Blue Bombers ended after just four games when he broke a bone in his foot – in the very same game against Toronto in Week Five that saw him return a punt for 81 yards, and then a kick off for 55 yards.
Rocquemore is a 6-1, 210 pound graduate of Utah State who signed with Winnipeg back in February of 2020 and will try to make the most of his unexpected opportunity against one of the CFL’s most lethal offensive units.
Former BC Lion Josh Johnson, who has a total of four CFL seasons under his belt after playing in Edmonton in 2019 and splitting the year before with Ottawa and Hamilton, takes over at strong side linebacker for Mercy Maston who suffered a torn achilles during the second week of camp.
Johnson signed with the Blue Bombers as a free agent in 2020 and also played eight games for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars during the 2016 season after coming over from the Lions.
There will also be a couple of new faces in the Winnipeg secondary as DeAundre Alford and Deatrick Nichols will attempt to replace the departed Winston Rose and Marcus Sayles.
The Georgia born Alford played for Division II Tusculum University in Greenville, Tennessee while Nichols – who is from Miami – played his University football at South Florida before turning pro with Arizona during the 2018 NFL season.
Thursday’s broadcast — with the Hall of Fame duo of Bob “Knuckles” Irving and Doug Brown – gets underway on CJOB at 5:30 p.m. with the pre game show.
There will be a lengthy ceremony, which will include the raising of the 2019 Grey Cup Banner, prior to the opening kickoff just before 8 p.m.