Castillo, Rose ready to help league-leading Bombers in push toward playoffs

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WINNIPEG — Kicker Sergio Castillo and defensive back Winston Rose had one thing in common Tuesday — both were smiling while talking to reporters.

The newly signed Winnipeg Blue Bombers had just finished their first practice with the 10-1 CFL-leading team and said they're ready to contribute in any way they can.

Castillo, 31, said he's been watching CFL games on TV from his Texas home and he couldn't pass up the chance to rejoin the team that he started his pro career with in 2015.

“Just to see what Winnipeg has been able to do over the course of this season, I think it's something pretty special that they got going on here,” Castillo said. “So when the opportunity was presented to me, you know, it was a no-brainer.”

Castillo was booting field goals at the start of Tuesday's practice. He was good on five-of-five attempts, including one try from 55 yards that hit the crossbar and went through.

He arrives at a time when Winnipeg is already using its third placekicker of the season.

The trio of Tyler Crapigna, Marc Liegghio and current starter Ali Mourtada are a combined, league-low 57.1 per cent (16 of 28) in field-goal attempts. Liegghio is still punting.

Castillo was with the NFL Tennessee Titans during training camp this year. He played in seven games in 2020 with the New York Jets, connecting on 8-of-13 field goals, including a 55-yarder.

Winnipeg acquired him in an Oct. 19 trade with the B.C. Lions for a fourth-round pick in next year's draft. Castillo had opted out of his contract with the Lions in August 2020 after the cancellation of the 2020 CFL season, but B.C. still held his CFL rights.

He's played 38 CFL games, including for Hamilton and Ottawa, and was named a CFL all-star with the Lions in 2019. He was 41 of 45 in field-goal tries that season (91.1 per cent). He's made 80 of his 92 CFL-career attempts (87 per cent).

Rose said the Bombers are having an “unbelievable season” and he'll play wherever the coaching staff puts him.

“I'm just coming in to do my part and just help the team,” said Rose, who won a Grey Cup with the Bombers in 2019 after leading the league with nine interceptions and earning a CFL all-star honour.

“I don't want to do nothing that they're not doing already, so I just want to add my piece to the puzzle.”

He was practising at cornerback Tuesday for a defence that's been playing at an elite level and leads the league in fewest points allowed per game (11.5).

Rose signed Oct. 20, three days before the Bombers shut out the B.C. Lions 45-0 and then went on a bye week. He was let go from the Cincinnati Bengals' practice roster in early September.

The Bombers host the Montreal Alouettes (6-5) on Saturday, but Winnipeg head coach Mike O'Shea wasn't tipping his hand on when the new additions might see game action.

“We'll see how they practise,” said O'Shea, whose squad clinched first place in the West Division with the victory over the Lions.

Newly signed running back Shaq Cooper was also on the field Tuesday, but star tailback Andrew Harris (knee) didn't practise again. He missed the last game.

Quarterback Zach Collaros described the practice as one of the best this season and said it was good to add Rose and Castillo into the mix.

“There was a lot of energy out on the field,” Collaros said. “It’s been great seeing Serg. It’s been a long time since I was a teammate of his.

“Having Winston back in here was great. Just a lot of positive energy in here today.”

Collaros and Castillo were teammates with the Tiger-Cats in 2017.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2021.

Judy Owen, The Canadian Press

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