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Winnipeg Blue Bombers Next Man UP

The 109th Grey Cup championships is 218 days away and many teams are getting ready to embark onin ter the 21-week journey to hoist the trophy. For the Blue Bombers, their preparation has been filled with many goodbyes to old friends while welcoming new faces. But, the question is who will step up for the Blue Bombers for the 2022 season?in

Will be looking at Brady Olivera who backed up Andrew Harris? Harris was fifth in the CFL in Rushing yards with six fewer played games and 52 fewer carries. Olivera posted solid numbers in his first full season in Blue and Gold totaling 429 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 13 games. but, will it be enough for three consecutive championships? Nope.

How about superstar quarterback Zach Collaros who came onto the scene at the end of the 2019 season with a story that is too good to be true. He led the Bombers to victory in the 2019 Grey Cup Championships. He started his Blue bombers career with a 4-0, including a come-from-behind 29-28 victory over the Calgary Stampeders to end the regular season, followed by wins over the Stamps in the Western Semi-Final, the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Western Final, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 107th Grey Cup. Maybe..

If you are thinking of the Bombers’ new three-headed monster in Jalen Saunders, Eli Greg Ellingson, and Rasheed Bailey, you may be on to something. That is all up to how healthy Saunders really is. In a phone interview from his California home, he was asked about his health and asked how close he is to the ‘old Jalen’ with his speed and agility. Saunders replied,

“It’s never left. It’s still here,” he said. “I’m ready to go. Trust that.”

Rasheed Bailey’s break-out season for the Blue Bombers included 14 regular-season games where he posted career numbers with 52 receptions for 629 yards and five touchdowns. That success continued into the postseason, where he added six more catches for 116 yards — including a touchdown in the Western Final and a critical two-point conversion in overtime of the Grey Cup win.

Greg Ellingson has a bit of catching up to do. Not in terms of play, but getting to know his new quarterback. Saunders and Bailey have had multiple with Collaros as their QB1, which usually means that the chemistry, connection, unspoken language, and knowing what the other will do has already been established. Although Ellingson is a veteran CFL player with 8 years of experience, it’s not easy to have to start over with a new player, but when they do… the league better watch out.

Who will step up for the Blue Bombers for the 2022 season? The answer is all of the Above. To replace a player of Harris caliber, it takes a team effort. Unfortunately for the Blue Bombers, they lost Harris and Kenny Lawler who led the CFL in receiving yards in 2021.

For the Blue Bombers to have a chance at repeating they are going to have to figure out how to replace the 1,637 yards of total offense that Harris and Lawler combined for in 2021. The Men in Blue and Gold will have to figure out who this 2022 team is and not living in the past on what the 2019 and 2022 were.

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LaMark Wylie Jr. Reporter
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