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Burke working on keeping Bombers focused on game

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Tim Burke says he needs to focus on the football game and not worry about the hoopla surrounding Thursday night’s home opener.

"I know it’s important for management but I have to worry about the football game," said Burke. "I can't get caught up in the rest of it."

There will be lots of extras tomorrow night prior to the Bombers hosting the Montreal Alouettes (8 p.m., TSN, CJOB).

Burke says he will do his best to control the emotions of his players as they come out of the tunnel into a new stadium and a sold-out crowd of 33,422.

"We’ve been addressing it all week long and the thing I said to them when we broke today was that you win games by playing the games one play at a time," said Burke. "You have to focus on perfection for that one play. When all of us achieve our personal best on that one play, we’re going to be successful. And then you go on and play the next play."

The Bombers were 6-12 last season while the Alouettes were 11-7 and won the East Division.

Head coach Marc Trestman left for the NFL’s Chicago Bears and there’s an entire new coaching staff but the one constant is future Hall of Fame quarterback Anthony Calvillo.

Burke says there’s an obvious strategy to defending against Calvillo.

"Knock him on his back is the No. 1 way. No quarterback likes to get hit and when you get a little older you like it less," said Burke.

Alouettes coach Dan Hawkins says there is no advantage for his staff because they are unknown to the league.

"Everyone can run different systems. There’s no advantage for us," stated Hawkins. "They have stuff in their back pocket that we haven’t seen either."

Hawkins says his group will stumble across situations in the three-down game that will be unfamiliar.

"There’s going to be lots of them. But we’ve worked hard and turned over a lot of stones to try and be prepared. We’ve got Doug Berry around, who is famous for stopping us in the halls and quizzing us on different situations," said Hawkins.

Last season’s CFL rookie of the year and the Bombers most dangerous receiver Chris Matthews has a badly sprained ankle and his status for Thursday is still unknown.

"Chris is still in between questionable and doubtful. We did run him a bit today," said Burke. "If he had to play today he’s not ready. Our trainer will run him again tomorrow and we’ll see how he does. We’ll know tomorrow around 1 p.m."

Replacing Matthews is a difficult task for the Bombers but Burke says his club has other options.

"I think Isaac Anderson is a very good receiver too. They are different receivers," said Burke. "Chris is obviously a big body guy and when you throw the ball up he is very good at winning the contested throws. Isaac is a blazer. When he gets the ball he can do a lot with it."

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @garylawless

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