Bombers Make Eleven Cuts (And What They Mean)

June 12 cuts

NAT FB Carl Fitzgerald

INT LB Denicos Allen

INT LB Curtis Taylor

INT LB Rodney Lamar

INT RB Bradley Randle

The extradition of international linebackers this past Friday wasn’t so much an indictment of Allen, Taylor, and Lamar as it was a positive reflection on the play of nationals Sam Hurl and Jesse Briggs. Briggs impressed in Toronto, while Hurl is sure to get the start in the team’s second preseason game on June 19. With Khalil Bass hanging around as the lone remaining international middle linebacker on the Blue Bomber roster, it’s safe to presume that, barring a truly awful performance versus Hamilton, Hurl has won the starting gig.

The release of Bradley Randle and Carl Fitzgerald, meanwhile, were influenced not by nationality but by mere competition. Randle’s miserable performance at Varsity Stadium sealed his fate, particularly given the excellent play of fellow scatback Carlos Anderson. It’s a rough fate for a player who’s been trying to crack a CFL roster for three years now, but, as we all know, football is a cruel business. Fitzgerald, meanwhile, was never able to utilize his tremendous size (6’5, 253) to become an offensive weapon. A lackluster blocker, Fitzgerald’s only shot at enjoying a long-term CFL career was to become a pass-catching threat out of the fullback and tight end positions (e.g. Ottawa’s Patrick Lavoie). In two years with the Bombers, Fitzgerald was never able to do this, making just three receptions for sixty-six yards. The release of Fitzgerald means the Bombers officially have zero players remaining from their disastrous 2013 CFL draft class (#ThanksJoeMack).

June 14 cuts

INT LB Sammy Brown

INT DB Patrick Hall

INT WR Lavasier Tuinei

NAT OL Quinn Everett

NAT WR Ezra Millington

NAT DB Dan West

The releases of Hall and Millington came as no surprise. Hall played terribly in Toronto and Millington was a long shot to beat out fellow national receivers Rory Kohlert, Julian Feoli-Gudino, Addison Richards, Kris Bastien, and Jordan Reaves for a spot. Count Quinn Everett as another victim of the numbers game. I thought Everett showed about as much as anyone could reasonably expect a twenty-two-year-old rookie to show versus Toronto, but a log-jam at the club’s three interior offensive line spots (Dominic Picard, Matthias Goossen, Patrick Neufeld, Chris Greaves, and Sukh Chungh aren’t going anywhere) made it impossible to keep him around. Rookie Tommy Griffiths, an undrafted guard out of Wilfred Laurier in 2014, is the only remaining national offensive lineman on the team. As I noted in my post-game thoughts of the opening preseason game, however, the Bombers may be keeping Griffiths around at defensive tackle rather than at guard.

The releases of Tuinei, West, and Brown came as moderate surprises to me. As impressive as many of the Bombers’ rookie international receivers have been (Ja-Mes Logan, Jhomo Gordon, Mike Willie, and Toney Clemons have all looked sharp at times), I thought Tuinei deserved at least one more look in the club’s second preseason game. Then again, Mike O’Shea told the media ahead of his team’s first preseason game that, “sometimes, the lights come on and guys shrink a little bit,” a bit of criticism that can reasonably be applied to Tuinei. Sources out of BC including 3DownNation’s Brian Wawryshyn have talked about Tuinei in a such a manner – someone whose best moments in practice don’t always translate to in-game success. I fully expect Tuinei to get a look elsewhere in the CFL in the next twelve months, though, as receivers who are 6’5 and have some speed are few and far between. Call it the Prechae Rodriguez effect.

West is a player I thought improved immensely under the team’s new coaching regime in 2014. A full-time special teamer, West had eleven special teams tackles last season, a number I expected to improve upon in 2015. With that being said, it’s hard to impress the coaching staff when you’ve been injured throughout training camp. If/when injuries pile up this season among national special teamers, I’d like to see West back in blue and gold.

Brown, finally, was a player I thought showed a nice burst off the edge against Toronto. Even with the club’s number of starting international defensive ends being cut from two to one through the addition of national rush end Jamaal Westerman, I thought Brown deserved another look this week versus Hamilton. The club has yet to see what remaining international pass rushers Derrell Johnson and Thaddeus Gibson can do in game action; hopefully Johnson and Gibson will show enough versus Hamilton to prove Brown expendable.

John Hodge, Blue Bomber Talk

Twitter: @BlueBomberTalk

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.