Mourtada gets another kick at job with Big Blue
Ali Mourtada was not the answer at kicker last year.
If he was, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers wouldnt have sent a conditional fourth-round draft pick to the BC Lions a week before the trade deadline in exchange for all-star Sergio Castillo.
After drilling five field goals in the Grey Cup victory in Hamilton over the Tiger-Cats, Castillo left the Bombers to sign with the Edmonton Elks.
Despite Mourtadas and Canadian kicker Marc Liegghios struggles a season ago, the Bombers still have faith in at least one of them being able to fill Castillos shoes. Mourtada is on the University of Manitoba field for this weeks rookie camp and if the CBA gets sorted out in time, Liegghio will be out there competing with him as early as Sunday for training camp.
Mourtada hit on just 8-of-15 field goal attempts in 2021 while Liegghio went 5-for-8 and missed three extra points.
No, Im not surprised (they brought me back). Im confident in my abilities, said the 31-year-old Mourtada, a product of Pace University, on Thursday.
The opportunity is there so Im just doing the work, man. I cant control whether they wanted me back or not, but Im happy they did. Im happy Im here and Im going to do everything on my end to be solid for this team.
In a chat with media last month, Bombers general manager Kyle Walters said he has talked at length with a lot of kickers in hopes of bringing in another leg for some competition. But as of now, no moves have been made, leaving Mourtada and Liegghio as the teams only options.
Well see what the roster needs. You know, right now, Id like to see Legs (Liegghio) get in here and lets see Ali and Legs split the uprights a bunch and see where that leaves us, said OShea after the second day of rookie camp.
But Ive got a lot of confidence in those guys.
Mourtada joined the Bombers midway through September last year after a stint in the Indoor Football League with the Massachusetts Pirates. Now with an opportunity to warm up with the Blue and Gold in preseason and with the CFL moving the hashmarks closer to centrefield, Mourtada feels more at home.
He hopes that leads to a chance to regain the confidence of everyone in Bomberland.
Last year, I had COVID right before coming up here. So I was coming it and just figuring it out. I mean, theres no excuses, right? You learn from it, but this year, Im more comfortable with the guys around me, the coaching staff, just playing, and being around the facility and everything like that, said Mourtada.
I didnt have that kind of learning process (in 2021)… so I kind of hit the ground running this year. I think comfortability is a big thing.
BISONS PIVOT LEARNING FROM PROS
As a part of the CFLs U Sports Canadian Quarterback Internship Program, Manitoba Bisons pivot Jackson Tachinski has joined the Bombers for training camp.
Its a fantastic opportunity to learn from the best. When youre with a great organization, you learn a lot of things and you pick up a lot of things, said Tachinski on Thursday.
Ive been picking everyones brain and soaking in all the information that I can and trying to get better every day.
Tachinski was supposed to sit and learn this past season, but with fifth-year starting quarterback Des Catellier suffering a season-ending injury in Week 1, the first-year backup was thrust into the starting role. Tachinski, who graduated from Vince Massey Collegiate, ended up leading the Herd to the Hardy Cup championship game.
Its definitely been crazy. A lot of things havent gone the way that I expected to, but Ive just been making the most of my opportunities and just trying to take advantage of everything that I get, said Tachinski.
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
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