Winnipeg Blue Bombers have new starters aplenty to kick off new season

There were no surprises on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers opening night 45-man roster as they put the final touches on their preparations for Thursday’s home opener against the defending Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes.

The Bombers will have a total of eight new starters in the lineup, in addition to a new returner and a new fullback.

Of course, it’s a rematch of the 110th Grey Cup game and while revenge is probably in the back of their minds, the Bombers are more worried about starting the season the right way, with a win.

“We got new guys on this team,” said running back Brady Oliveira. “They got new guys on their team, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited. I’m looking forward to that game with them tomorrow, having them come here and just starting this season off the right way. It’s the next game on our schedule,” said quarterback Zach Collaros. “I know it’s the first game of the season, but it’s important to stack up those two points.”

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The film room sessions this week stirred up some bad memories of losing in the Grey Cup game for two straight years, but the head coach said it’s time to move on.

“You just can’t keep living back there,” said head coach Mike O’Shea. “I think that should be so far removed. I’m not saying some players won’t feel it that way, but you just can’t keep moving forward if that’s all you’re doing is looking back with a vengeance. I don’t know. It’ll work for some guys, but I think most guys have moved forward.”

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After sitting out both exhibition games, Collaros didn’t take a single snap in the pre-season and this will be his first game action since last November’s Grey Cup game, but he still doesn’t sound too worried about having to shake off any rust after three weeks of training camp.

“I feel good,” said Collaros. “Obviously, we play, we practice fast and we practice hard. It’s hard to simulate the game reps. “But you know, I think we have a good plan. We’ll go out there and see what they’re doing and we’ll all work our way into the game.”

Click to play video: 'RAW: Blue Bombers Zach Collaros Interview – June 5'

RAW: Blue Bombers Zach Collaros Interview – June 5

The Bombers made six changes to the starting lineup due to player turnover and two more because of injuries.

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Defensive end Celestin Haba and defensive tackle Miles Fox enter on the defensive line, while Tyrell Ford and Terrell Bonds get the call in the secondary with Jamal Parker on the six-game injured list. And Shayne Gauthier will start at middle linebacker for the injured Adam Bighill.

Even with all the changes, the defence has some high hopes again this season.

“It could be amazing,” said defensive end Willie Jefferson. “It could be lights out. We’re gonna be fast. We’re gonna be dominant. We’re gonna be tough. We’re gonna be gritty. We want to win on first down and get off the field on second down.”

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On the offensive side of the football, Eric Lofton and Liam Dobson will start in the trenches, while Ontaria Wilson is the new fifth receiver to take Rasheed Bailey’s old spot.

Michael Chris-Ike is their new first string fullback and on special teams Myron Mitchell gets the opening night assignment at returner with some big shoes to fill after the departure of Janarion Grant.

“He fields the ball very cleanly,” O’Shea said. “Shows good bursts. Shows good grit and toughness in other areas. “I don’t know if it’s going to look perfect, but I think with young guys, it rarely does.”

Kickoff is at 7:30 pm on Thursday at Princess Auto Stadium with the pre-game show to begin at 5:30 pm on 680 CJOB.


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