After changing offensive coordinators, rotating four different quarterbacks and plugging in some new receivers, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have decided to shake up their offensive line in an effort to spark their offence.
The Bombers will take the unusual step of using three imports on their offensive line when they host the B.C. Lions on Friday.
It's not the first time a CFL club has employed this strategy, but it is rare.
Most teams like to play at least three Canadians, preferably four on their offensive line. But as Bombers head coach Tim Burke explained, "we have had problems blocking for the running game and trouble protecting our quarterbacks. We now have three athletic individuals who we hope can make our offensive line more effective. We would rather not go this route, but I think it's a necessity.
“We just haven't been able to establish the run at all this year and I can't see how this won't help."
Veteran Glenn January will return from injury after a one-game absence to hold down his familiar left tackle spot. Jarvis Jones from Oklahoma will move from left tackle to right tackle. Dan Knapp, an Arizona State graduate, shifts to right guard – a position he has never played. Knapp will take over from Tyson Pencer, who struggled in his second ever CFL start. Justin Sorenson will remain at center with Chris Greaves holding on to his left guard spot.
Both Jones and Knapp made their CFL debuts during last week’s overtime loss to Edmonton and they can only hope their second game in Blue and Gold will provide a more positive experience. The 35-27 overtime loss to the Eskimos was the kind of setback that is hard to swallow. The Bombers led 20-0 early in the game, were up 27-11 late in the third quarter, only to be victimized by some great work by Edmonton Quarterback Mike Reilly, some bad luck, and another tough outing from the Winnipeg offence.
The Blue Bombers had nine first downs in the first quarter and only eight the rest of the way. As has happened more than once this year, the Winnipeg defence simply ran out of gas at the end, and the Eskimos walked away with their third win.
Tim Burke is hoping that three large, athletic Americans on his offensive line will help the Bombers overcome their biggest weakness.
Bob Irving has covered the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for CJOB Radio in Winnipeg since 1973. Bob is the Sports Director at CJOB and is in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, reporters division. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobIrvingCJOB