WINNIPEG- As with all CFL training camps, there is plenty of competition being waged at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg. But there is one area where there are very few openings, and that’s the offensive line. Barring injury, or some totally unforseen development, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers know who 4 of their 5 starting offensive linemen will be this season. Under the tutelage and watchful eye of veteran coach Bob Wiley, the Bombers two top draft picks from 2014 and 2015 have developed into players who should be the cornerstones of the o-line for years to come. Mathias Goossen was the clubs first pick, 2nd overall, out of Simon Fraser 2 years ago. Goossen took over at center from Dom Picard late last season, and played well enough to convince the Bombers that he is ready for prime time even though he is still only 23 years of age. As a rookie in 2015, Sukh Chungh earned the starting right guard spot out of training camp and only got better as the year went on. The 24-year old Chungh is a lock to line up on Goossen’s right.
Pat Neufeld has shown he has what it takes to be the rare Canadian capable of playing the difficult tackle spot. Neufeld has battled injuries throughout his career and is once again dinged up this year during camp. But he’s expected to be healthy when the regular season begins and if he is, he will hold down the right tackle spot. Stanley Bryant played all 18 games at left tackle last season and he will return to that post this year. Bryant says he didn’t play his best last year and is determined to return to the All-Canadian form he displayed in 2013 and 2014 with the Calgary Stampeders.
That leaves the left guard position up for grabs. And there is no shortage of candidates. Jace Daniels played 7 games last year before a knee injury ended his season. The big Northern Michigan grad is back and determined to hold off a host of challengers. There are 5 other import tackles in camp, and the most impressive of that group so far has been Travis Bond. The gigantic Bond was a 7th round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2013. The 330 pound North Carolina product spent time with the Vikes, Carolina and St. Louis in the NFL before signing with the Bombers in March.
No football team will have success unless it has a sturdy offensive line. With the help of a new offensive system that will take some of the pressure off the o-line, the Bombers are confident they have the pieces in place to provide quarterback Drew Willy with the kind of protection required for him to have the big year they expect their quarterback to have.