Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Blue Bombers Settle Kicking Battle by Opting to Stick with Two Canadians

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Blue Bombers Settle Kicking Battle by Opting to Stick with Two Canadians

Article excerpt

Bombers opt for two Canadian kickers

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WINNIPEG - Two is better than one for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this season when it comes to kickers, at least when they're both Canadians.

Coach Mike O'Shea says they opted to stick with veteran Mike Renaud for punting and go with Canadian newcomer Lirim Hajrullahu for field goals and kickoffs.

He says American Brett Maher was pretty much in a tie with the Canadians, and as an import he needed to win all three battles.

"I said all along in that battle he had to win the job outright in all three phases and I think he drew even in all three phases," he said Monday after Maher was released.

"I think it was a pretty even draw. . . And the way our roster shapes up, that wasn't necessarily good enough."

But he says Maher is a quality kicker who should find a home if anyone watched what he did with the Bombers.

Renaud is entering his sixth season with Winnipeg. Rookie Hajrullahu is a native of St. Catharines, Ont., whose 402 points and 72 field goals are records at Western, where he played for the Mustangs through 2013.

Winnipeg's roster issues when it comes to the import-Canadian balance weren't helped any Monday with the news linebacker Graig Newman could miss the entire regular season, after suffering a serious ankle injury in their final pre-season game in Calgary.

O'Shea held out some hope he might return earlier.

"Graig's a guy we went after hard in the off-season and I'm not saying he's done for the season," he said.

"I know that's what's been said in the report but I'm optimistic and so's he and we'll see him soon. He's already in his mind figuring out his rehab and how hard he's going to work. . . Ask me again in a couple of months, three months possibly."

Newman was scheduled for surgery Monday after dislocating and fracturing his ankle in their 23-20 loss to the Calgary Stampeders Saturday night, the Bombers second pre-season loss after bowing 24-22 to the Toronto Argonauts last Monday.

"Graig is not only a great football player, but a great person, and our entire organization supports him throughout this process," general manager Kyle Walters said in a release. …

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