Mike O’Shea says Roosevelt signing is about overcoming injuries, not dropped passes

Head coach Mike O’Shea denied that the signing of Naaman Roosevelt had anything to do with the number of passes the Blue Bombers have dropped in recent weeks.

“It has to do with injuries, more or less. Before the game (against Calgary in Week 4), we knew we were going to be depleted. It was getting harder to practice that week. We were starting to wear out the guys that were going to be playing instead of just sharpening them up, and then that gets to the point where it’s not good for the entire team,” said O’Shea via videoconference.

“It really is about the effect it has on the full team, so bringing in a guy who really understands everything and is a good guy and you know is going to fit right away, they’re all really positive thoughts. This is a good thing for us.”

Rasheed Bailey had his first career 100-yard game against Calgary, but the Bombers have missed the production provided earlier this season by Nic Demski. The Winnipeg native has been out for the past two games with a hip injury and is unlikely to play in the Labour Day Classic after not participating in practice on Wednesday.

“We’ve been nicked up a little bit, so rather than bring in a guy who has no CFL experience, you’re bringing in a guy who has over 4,000 yards,” said O’Shea. “He’s a very accomplished receiver who understands CFL defences, offensive route combinations, the size of the field, the waggle. All the nuances that a new-to-the-CFL guy has to learn, he’s already mastered. He will be available more quickly than other guys.”

Roosevelt set a career-high in 2019 with 77 receptions, though he fell just shy of the 1,000-yard mark. He had a strong performance against the Blue Bombers in the West Final, making seven catches for 87 yards.

“He’s a great person,” said quarterback Zach Collaros, who was a teammate of Roosevelt’s in Saskatchewan. “Anytime you can add that to the locker room, that goes a long way not just for the receiver room but the culture of the organization. I think Naaman has that in spades and anybody that’s ever been around him would say the same thing.”

The veteran passer spoke to Roosevelt days before he signed with the team, encouraging him to come to Winnipeg due to the team’s positive culture.

“I said, ‘Hey man, you’ll love it here. Mike O’Shea’s a great head coach, it’s a great locker room. We have a great staff, everybody loves the game, it’s what you want to be around.’ I just gave him that kind of insight and said whatever you decide to do, good for you, but obviously we’d love to have you here. We’re all very excited about it,” said Collaros.

“I don’t think he’ll have a problem picking that up and I think he’s just a great cultural fit here. He’s a great person, a great teammate and we’ll all benefit from having Naaman around.”

Roosevelt will be eligible to play in the Labour Day Classic despite crossing the border on Monday. It would be his first return to Mosaic Stadium since the Riders elected not to retain him in free agency in February 2020.

“He’s a good guy and I do believe that a lot of teams put stock in that. We do, certainly,” said O’Shea. “It’s nice to come to work every day and want to be around all the guys who are here working. Meeting him the other day, it was good to chat with him for a very short period of time. He’s seems like an uplifting kind of guy.”

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