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Quarterback Robert Marve's late-game performance a Bombers fan favourite

Robert Marve participates in quarterback drills during the NFL super regional football combine Monday, April 8, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. His energetic late entry gave the Winnipeg Blue Bombers some late fire in their first exhibition game and earned him some fan love, says quarterback Marve. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Tony Gutierrez

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Robert Marve participates in quarterback drills during the NFL super regional football combine Monday, April 8, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. His energetic late entry gave the Winnipeg Blue Bombers some late fire in their first exhibition game and earned him some fan love, says quarterback Marve. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Tony Gutierrez

WINNIPEG - Robert Marve knows that when you give Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans something to cheer about, you feel the love.

Marve is one of three quarterbacks coach Mike O'Shea says are in the running to back up starter Drew Willy for the Bombers.

He spent a scant few minutes on the field last Thursday at the end of a 24-22 loss to the Toronto Argonauts but didn't waste a second.

He rushed for 17 yards and connected with three out of four passes, including one for a touchdown to rookie receiver Donavon Kemp.

It gave fans a reason to cheer, and they responded in person and on Twitter.

"I did get some Bomber love," he said Thursday after practice. "That was nice. The fans are awesome and I appreciate all the support."

Marve will get another chance to play Saturday when the Bombers visit the Calgary Stampeders in Calgary, but coach Mike O'Shea couldn't say how much.

"We'll see all four," he said. "Now how the time's broken down, we'll see how it all plays out. But the plan right now is, as I said yesterday, to give Drew all the time he needs to feel comfortable and for the offence to get comfortable with him."

Willy also didn't sound too concerned Thursday about how much time he will get as the team plays its last pre-season game before their CFL home opener against the Argonauts June 26. He had two seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in a backup capacity and at least on Thursday was getting a lot more playing time in practice.

O'Shea insists the role of backup in Winnipeg is still very much up for grabs.

In terms of CFL experience, Max Hall would seem to have the inside track. He finished last season as the pivot the Bombers turned too most often as they struggled to find a way to win.

But they also brought in Marve and Brian Brohm to audition.

At just 25, Marve is the youngest of the three. A high-school star in Florida, his college career was marred by three operations to repair three tears of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Likely as a result, he was undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft but attended the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie minicamp on a tryout basis.

He insists his knee feels better after this last operation than it has since it was first injured and he doesn't let the injury in any way dictate how he's going to play.

"No, I'm a loose cannon. I can't play holding anything back. And as you kind of saw on that one drive I'm a pump up guy. I like to run around and make some things happen.

"So I felt good in the game. My knee felt fine when I was running so I'm ready to go physically."

His last operation was about a year ago and he finished his college career at Purdue before having it.

Among the cuts the Bombers announced Thursday was their No. 1 draft pick in 2012, offensive lineman Tyson Pencer.

Although Pencer, who was taken third overall in that year's CFL draft, has spent much of his time with the Bombers on an injured list, O'Shea said they have seen enough to know he was not going to make the team.

They also released import defensive linemen Stafford Gatling and Louis Nzegwu, import offensive lineman Quentin Saulsberry and another draft pick, defensive back Kris Robertson, who they selected in the second round last year.

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