New Bombers defensive end Keion Adams trying to overcome family tragedy as he prepares for first start

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Keion Adams has gone through a lot in the past couple of weeks.

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The newest member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers got released by the Saskatchewan Roughriders, signed with another team and found out he had a good chance to start this week.

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He also learned about the recent death of two of his cousins ​​back home in Salisbury, NC, and had to deal with tragedy amid everything else.

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“I had two family members get into a car crash and they ended up dying,” Adams said.

“That news was revealed to me throughout this whole process.

“It was difficult to be thinking about what I’ve got going on back home, the family, how that situation affected not only the people in the family, but the lives of the people in Salisbury, NC, where I’m from. “

Adams, a 6-foot-2, 245-pound defensive end, will start for the Bombers on Saturday when they host the Edmonton Elks at IG Field (6 pm).

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A seventh-round draft pick of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017, Adams is filling in for all-star Jackson Jeffcoat, who will miss his second straight game with a hip injury. The Bombers felt comfortable in trading away defensive end Cedric Wilcots this week (for DB Alden Darby) because they had Adams ready to step in.

His first full practice, on Tuesday, was a difficult one, as his family was grieving back home.

“On (Tuesday) when we were having the interviews, I was kind of short and my mind was everywhere,” Adams said.

“I’m fine now, they’ve been laid to rest. We’re moving forward as a family and as a city. They were a major part of our city.

“Just being a professional athlete, or an athlete period, it just allows you to push through certain things and be able to overcome certain things based upon the work you put in and the people you’re around. Just being here has definitely eased that situation and made me more comfortable to just come in here and do what I need to do, which is play football.”

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The Bombers are hopeful that Adams can complement all-star defensive end Willie Jefferson and help them pick up the pressure on Edmonton quarterback Taylor Cornelius.

The Bombers haven’t recorded a quarterback sack in the last two games.

“He’s got a good motor, he’s explosive,” Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said. “First game, you’d like him to stay onside and be active. That’s about it. I’m sure there’s going to be moments where he’s going to need more time communicating with the guys around him, but he understands the game, he’s played CFL games, he’s a good football player and we expect him to show it.”


Saturday will be a momentous day for Canadian Redha Kramdi, who will make his first CFL start at dime back (weak-side linebacker).

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The 25-year-old from Montreal replaced American rookie Donald Rutledge, Jr., during last week’s win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders and will be No. 1 on the depth chart against the Elks.

“It’s Redha’s time,” O’Shea said. “He keeps on improving in practice and showing that he can do a lot for us, so we’ll give him a shot and see what he can do.

“Redha has played Canadian football for a long time and he’s a very good football player. If you’re around, watching practice every day, you’ll see Redha making more and more plays. He’s got a lot of grit, he’s very smart, good communicator, very athletic, seems to be able to run all day. All the things you like about him on special teams, you also like about him on defense.”

Kramdi was selected by the Bombers in the second round (16Th overall) of the 2021 CFL draft. Bombers general manager Kyle Walters said at the time that his special teams film from the University of Montreal was among the best he’d ever seen.

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“I feel pretty thankful,” Kramdi said. “I’m happy to have the start this week and make the best out of it. I just had to be ready for it since the beginning of the season.

“I’ve been prepping myself so that if the coaches asked me to go in, I’d just step in. The defense has standards and I’ve just been prepping myself like I’m a starter. The only difference this week is I’ve been given the start.”

Kramdi played dime back in university and is very familiar with the position. Rutledge seemed to be doing well but there was a suggestion that he started to fade a bit later in the season. A US college season is only 8-10 games, while the CFL season is 18 games.

“This defense has amazing football players, so I’m not trying to do too much,” Kramdi said. “I’m just going out there and doing my job and letting the plays come to me.”

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Kramdi is finally starting to feel comfortable again after going through a difficult rookie season in 2021.

His brother, Sami, passed away in his sleep during the Bombers training camp last year.

“Last year was kind of hard, to be honest,” Kramdi said. “Midway through camp, I lost my brother, so I had to go home for the funeral and come back. Right after I came back, I pulled my hamstring and I was out for a couple weeks.

“This year was a fresh start for me, just coming out with a clear mind, and a clear spirit, and just making sure I’m me. Last year I didn’t feel like myself.”

Kramdi said he thinks about his brother every day and wishes he could be in the stands for his first pro start on Saturday.

His parents, immigrants from Algeria, will be watching at home in Montreal.

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“Of course they’re happy,” Kramdi said. “My dad has been following. He came from Algeria so he didn’t know about football until I started playing.

“He’s been following since I started playing, so he’s excited. I tried to bring him up here, but he’s gonna watch it at home. They’ve been watching every week and last week I received a call and they were happy to see me on the defensive side of the ball.”


With Kramdi joining the lineup, the Bombers will start nine Canadians on Saturday. The minimum is seven, and many teams stick to that number, but O’Shea doesn’t look at passports when he fills out line-ups. The other Canadian starters this week include weak-side linebacker Shayne Gauthier, defensive tackle Jake Thomas, offensive linemen Geoff Gray, Chris Kolankowski and Pat Neufeld, receivers Nic Demski and Brendan O’Leary-Orange and running back Brady Oliveira.

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