Bombers’ LB Adam Bighill returns to practice early, ‘expects to play’ in Week 2

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Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ linebacker Adam Bighill returned to practice on Sunday and is trending towards a return to the lineup in Week 2.

“Yeah, I expect to play this week,” the 35-year-old told reporters after practice. “Just getting a feel for everything out here today, making sure everything feels good.”

Bighill was placed on the six-game injured list on May 15 with a calf issue but declined to comment as to whether it was the same injury he suffered in the 2023 West Final against the B.C. Lions. He suited up for the 110th Grey Cup despite the injury but registered only one defensive tackle in a 28-24 loss to the Montreal Alouettes.

The Bombers had been vocally optimistic that the six-time CFL all-star would be ready to return before his allotted six games, but his removal from the list after just one game still comes as a surprise. Still, the defender insists his timeline to return was not influenced by Winnipeg’s 27-12 loss to Montreal in the season opener.

“I’m coming back at exactly the right time. It’s what our medical team believes, it’s what I believe. At the end of the day, you follow the directions of the people that take good care of us,” Bighill said.

“You’re just making sure you’re doing everything you can to prepare the right way and not rush anything. I would have liked to be able to be out there last week but when you’re on the six-game, you’re not allowed to. It’s as soon as possible (for a return).”

The Bombers listed Kyle Wilson and Shayne Gauthier as their starting linebackers in Week 1, though Brian Cole II and Souleymane Karamoko also saw significant playing time. The team surrendered 324 yards of net offence and allowed 6.2 yards per play with their defensive leader watching from the sidelines.

When healthy, Bighill has shown no signs of slowing down. He produced 74 defensive tackles, four sacks, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown in 17 games last season. The three-time Most Outstanding Defensive Player has totalled 891 career tackles, 49 sacks, 15 interceptions, 14 forced fumbles, and one touchdown over his 11-year CFL career.

“It’s nice to have him back out practicing and he looks good,” said head coach Mike O’Shea. “He’s so smart and he’s got so much experience. It certainly helps everyone else around him.”

In other injury news, O’Shea would not confirm reports that all-star receiver Kenny Lawler suffered a fractured arm in the season opener but said he expects him to miss more than a week. The head coach remained optimistic about the status of Canadian running back Brady Oliveira, who sat out on Sunday with a knee injury that also held him out of training camp.

Winnipeg (0-1) will return to action on Thursday, June 13 when they visit the Ottawa Redblacks (0-0) at 7:30 p.m. EDT.