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Burke discontinues walk-throughs ahead of Ticats game

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Winnipeg Blue Bombers Head Coach Tim Burke

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GUELPH, ONT. -- Here’s a sentence you’ve never read before:

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are in Guelph.

The Bombers arrived in this southern Ontario city just before 2 p.m. ET Wednesday in advance of their history-making pre-season game Thursday evening against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Tomorrow’s contest will be the first CFL game to be held in Guelph, which is serving as the temporary home of the Ticats in 2013 as the club completes construction of a new 24,000-seat stadium on the site of their longtime former home in Hamilton, Ivor Wynne Stadium, which has been demolished.

Thursday’s game will be played at tiny Alumni Stadium, the home of the Guelph Gryphons of the CIS. The stadium has permanent seating for about 7,500, but the addition of temporary seating will push total capacity for CFL games this season to about 13,000 spectators. That will still be, by far, the smallest seating capacity in the CFL this season.

Bombers head coach Tim Burke was asked if the new and unconventional location for Hamilton games this season -- the Bombers also travel here twice during the regular season -- adds a new element to his club’s preparations in 2013.

"I won’t know until after we’ve played a game," Burke said during a media availability shortly after the club’s arrival here at their hotel. "But for me it’s exciting. I get to see another town in Canada that I’ve never been to.

"I think it’s kind of neat."

The Bombers will hold meetings at the team hotel this afternoon but will not hold the traditional light "walk-through" practice that some teams still do the day before a game.

Previous Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice was part of a dwindling number of CFL coaches who still held on-site walk-throughs the day before road games and Burke said he’s decided to completely discontinue the practice this season.

"We didn’t do them in Calgary or Montreal either," Burke said, referencing his two previous CFL employers. "I think it gets to be more of a distraction, having to go to the stadium.

"You’re so worried about somebody seeing what you’re doing that you never do anything anyways. So it just seems like a waste of time.

"We can get more done in a hotel ballroom because then we can work on things we’re trying to hide from an opponent."

Burke provided a minor personnel update on Wednesday, noting DB Wesley Pendleton did not make the trip as scheduled because he got injured in practice in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

Earlier Wednesday, the Ticats held a walkthrough practice of their own at McMaster University in Hamilton.

Ticats head coach Kent Austin said veteran QB Henry Burris will get the start versus Winnipeg, but there’s no set plan on how long Burris will remain in the game.

"We’ll see how it goes. He needs to get enough work to feel comfortable. Not just with the plays we’re running, but getting personnel groupings in and out of the huddle, managing the clock and hopefully get into a couple situations that are different than just get to the line of scrimmage and snap a play.

"As long as we experience with Henry multiple situations like that, then we’ll be pretty confident that he’s prepared."

Thursday’s game is not being broadcast on TSN, but CJOB’s Bob Irving will have the live call on radio.

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