Changes usually come when a team isn’t going well, so it’s no surprise the Winnipeg Blue Bombers made a big move at the most important position on the field Saturday.
The club, 1-5 and last in the CFL standings, announced that Joey Elliott -- and not Alex Brink -- will be the starting quarterback for the game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Thursday night.
"As I’ve said through camp, those guys were neck-and-neck, almost like a (Nos.) 2 and 2A," head coach Paul LaPolice said after an hour-long workout at Canad Inns Stadium. "During the bye I watched every throw from pre-season and we want to see what Joey can do. Alex has done OK, but we want to see if a change helps us in our pass game.
"It’s fairest to give (Elliott) a full week of prep and a full week (of practice) instead of seeing how Alex does. I talked to Alex and again, it’s my fault. All of this is my fault. I’m not placing blame anywhere but squarely on me, but we want to see how this change works."
Brink, who replaced starter Buck Pierce for the last three weeks, was told of the news following practice – after the team announced the move on Twitter. Understandably, he wasn’t happy with the decision.
"Obviously, I’m disappointed," he said. "It’s every kid’s dream to be the starting quarterback for a professional football team and it’s frustrating when that gets taken away from you."
Brink was 1-2 in his three starts this year, going 60-of-111 for 790 yards and three touchdowns. He also had four interceptions. He was visibly upset when asked for his thoughts about the change in the depth chart, agreeing with a reporter’s assertion that he might have been blindsided by the change in direction.
"I would say blindside is a good word," he said.
Elliott has started two games in the CFL, both coming in his rookie season in 2010. He missed most of 2011 with a serious knee injury and only has seen a quarter of game action this year, when he came in for mop-up duty in the 42-10 loss to Edmonton last month.
"It’s an opportunity," Elliott said. "That’s all you want as a quarterback to be able to go out and compete and hopefully we can get us a win. Offensively, we’re doing pretty well. We just have to find a way to win.
"It was nice hearing my name being called."
Winnipeg hosts Hamilton Thursday (7 p.m.). In other Bombers news:
- On the subject of quarterbacks, Pierce was in a helmet and running around very well. Though he looks like he's ready to play, LaPolice all but ruled him out for Thursday's game.
- The club worked out import Shannon Boatman at the right tackle position. He’ll get a good, long look to replace rookie import Jordan Taormina at offensive line spot this week.
- Amazingly, four players could not find enough time during their bye-week to arrive back in Winnipeg on time for practice. Alex Suber, Jonathan Hefney, Henoc Muamba and Jason Vega were all absent Saturday morning. Running back Chad Simpson and receiver Chris Matthews did not participate.
- With Brady Browne done for the year (Achillies), LaPolice was hopeful starting safety Ian Logan (leg) would be back in the lineup for the Tabbies. He had a light workout Saturday, but no decision will be made on his status until later this week. The team has a plan to either put rookie Dan West or Jovon Johnson at the position is Logan can’t go.
- The club brought back fullback James Green Saturday, adding the Canadian to the practice roster. Green, who’s coming off a foot injury, is vying for a special teams spot.