Big Blue face kicker conundrum


The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were perfect on field goal attempts this pre-season.

While that may sound impressive, it really isn’t. They’ve only attemped one field goal in two exhibition games and it was an 18-yarder that came off the foot of second-year Canadian Marc Liegghio in Tuesday’s 25-16 win in Regina over the Riders.

In addition to the chip shot, Liegghio has connected on all three of his convert attempts. His competition, American kicker Ali Mourtada, is 3-for-4 on singles with his lone miss bouncing off the upright in last week’s 30-20 loss at IG Field to the Edmonton Elks.

There’s not much you can take away from those contests to form an opinion on which of the two should handle placekicking duties at home in Week 1 against the Ottawa RedBlacks.

“Yeah, they didn’t get a lot of opportunities. I took those away by not kicking 12-yard field goals. I just wasn’t interested in that. I don’t know what you learn from that,” said head coach Mike O’Shea after Thursday’s training camp day at the University of Manitoba turf field.

“We haven’t set our roster yet. You asked whether it will be difficult? Yeah, setting your roster is always difficult.”

It’s well documented how both Liegghio and Mourtada struggled a year ago, leading to the Bombers trading for all-star kicker Sergio Castillo. With Castillo now booting the ball for the Edmonton Elks, the Blue and Gold are going to need see some improvement from Liegghio and/or Mourtada. On Thursday, O’Shea brushed off the idea of the team bringing in another kicker before Week 1.

“We like everybody here,” said O’Shea.

O’Shea, however, said the door isn’t closed on Australian punter Tom Hackett rejoining the team. Hackett returned home when the CBA was still up in the air and missed both pre-season games. Hackett, a two-time Ray Guy award winner during his time with the Utah Utes, is still contemplating his future in football. The Bombers selected Hackett sixth overall in the 2022 Global Draft.

Roster cutts

The Bombers cut 11 players Thursday, most notably American defensive back Josh Miller who suited up for three games in 2021. Linebacker Darian Taylor, receivers BJ Mucklevene and Whop Philyor, running back Shane Simpson, offensive lineman Leon Johnson, defensive end Jordan Berner, and defensive backs Corey Straughter, Zach Hannibal, and Javon Jackson were the other Americans sent packing. Offensive lineman Brandon Sanford was the lone Canadian released.

Philyor caught a 78-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter on Tuesday from QB Dakota Prukop.

No boot on Rose

All-star defensive back Winston Rose sat out Sunday’s practice with a walking boot on his left leg. Rose was also a spectator on Thursday, but the good news is the boot was off and he was walking around without a limp.

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Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.