Running back Cory Philpot will begin the 2000 Canadian Football League season where he started it last year -- on the sidelines.
The seven-year veteran was among nine players released by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday as all CFL teams -- except the B.C. Lions -- reduced their rosters to 39 players (19 Canadians, 17 Americans, three quarterbacks). The Lions had no final cuts to make because they put four players on the injured list Friday to reduce their roster to 38, one below the league mandate.
But Philpot won't be heading to the unemployment line. The Bombers opted to keep the 30-year-old on their practice roster as insurance in case starter George Jones falters or is injured.
And Philpot is a nice insurance policy. He has surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing plateau three times, rambling for a career-high 1,451 yards in 1994 with the Lions. The following season, Philpot led the league with 17 rushing touchdowns.
Philpot began last season on the practice roster as Winnipeg opened with Deland McCullough at running back. But, in spot duty, Philpot still managed to rush for 234 yards on 42 carries (5.6-yard average).
The Bombers kick off the regular season Wednesday in Montreal. Later that night, the Edmonton Eskimos face the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium.
Winnipeg also placed quarterback Brian Ah Yat, linebacker Brian Clark, fullback Bruce Boyko and receivers Joseph Rogers, Mitch Running and Alfred Shipman on the injured list.
Winnipeg also will have a new fullback in its lineup Wednesday. Scott Deibert, among nine players released by Edmonton, was quickly signed by the Bombers, who were desperately seeking a backfield mate for Jones.
The Eskimos also placed receivers Fred Bailey and Henry (Gizmo) Williams, defensive lineman Jed Roberts, kicker Matt Kellett and slotback Marc Tolbert on the injured list. Running back Craig Carr, offensive lineman Tim Bakker and receiver Rob Harrod, all drafted this year by Edmonton, were put on the practice roster.
The Grey Cup champion Hamilton Tiger-Cats released 11 players, including veterans linebacker Cooper Harris, defensive lineman Obie Spanic and offensive linemen Frank Rocca and Sandy Annunziata. Also cut was rookie receiver Mike Juhasz, the club's top pick in this year's CFL Canadian college draft.
Hamilton placed linebacker Joe Hagins and cornerback Donald Smith on the injured list.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders cut two players -- defensive lineman Sheldon Napastuk and linebacker George Psofimis -- and placed receivers Ousmane Tounkara and Demetris Bendross on the injured list.
Montreal let six players go, including slotback Andre Bolduc and linebacker Hency Charles, both veterans. The Alouettes also placed defensive tackle Jason Richards on the injured list.
The Toronto Argonauts set 12 players adrift, including draft choices Brad Coutts (receiver), Kojo Millington (defensive end), Jean-Vincent Posy-Audette and Carson Souter (kicker). The club placed fullback Paul Blackwood and defensive backs Antonious Bonner, Corey Hill, Andrew Henry and George Nimako on the injured list and transferred linebacker Fred Perry to the disabled list.
Toronto will start the year with 14 players on the injured list.
Among the 10 players released by Calgary were veterans Cameron Legault (defensive tackle) and Rohn Meyer (offensive line). The club also sent defensive back Brock Balog back to the University of Calgary.