Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Is Bigger Better? Bombers O-Line Puts Theory to Test for 2012 CFL Season: Bombers Appear Focused on O-Line Size in 2012

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Is Bigger Better? Bombers O-Line Puts Theory to Test for 2012 CFL Season: Bombers Appear Focused on O-Line Size in 2012

Article excerpt

WINNIPEG - When and if that new Winnipeg stadium ever opens, hopefully the locker-room doors will be made extra high, and maybe a little wider.

It would make life easier for the Blue Bombers' offensive line, judging by the size of the recruits as the team rebuilds and plugs holes.

The size of those particular doors won't matter until late in the season, if then, as the new Investors Group Field at the University of Manitoba is months behind schedule.

Instead, home will be the crumbling but familiar Canad Inns Stadium just west of downtown, where knocking your head into a door frame might break it.

"It doesn't really matter to me, as long as there's a field somewhere for us to play," said Paul Swiston, who at six foot nine and near 340 pounds is the biggest of the prospects looking to land a job as a starter on that line.

They certainly are big. At 6-4 and 318 pounds, returning left tackle Andre Douglas is one of the small guys, probably not something he hears very often.

Swiston, out of the University of Calgary, and 2012 draft pick Tyson Pencer, at 6-8 and around 330, seem to be the shape of things to come.

"We're getting some size," said Swiston.

"I think once the young guys, including me, get moving in the right direction, I think it will be a quick line too."

The next level down (but not very far) is Jordan Taorima out of Oklahoma State at 6-7 and 330, and 2011 practice-roster addition Justin Sorensen at 6-7 and 316.

Whether bigger is better remains to be seen.

Winnipeg lost a couple of key Canadians after the 2011 season, all-star guard Brendon LaBatte and veteran centre Obby Khan, both more akin to Douglas in size.

Khan called it quits at 31 after six seasons with the Bombers and a total of eight in the CFL. He plans to open a shawarma restaurant in Winnipeg.

LaBatte, however, just 25, cut out in his prime to return to his native Saskatchewan and play for the Roughriders.

Kelly Butler, closing in on 30 this year and more in line with the newcomers at 6-8, also retired after two seasons with Winnipeg and an NFL career that started in 2004.

Despite Winnipeg's first-place finish in the East and trip to the Grey Cup, the o-line didn't get a lot of respect for much of last season. …

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