It wasn’t exactly an air show for the ages, but Max Hall’s solid first half against the Edmonton Eskimos last week sealed him the start for this Friday’s game against the B.C. Lions.
Hall came out late in last week’s game after taking a bad hit, but today, he was healed up and ready to go, he said, although he’s been told not to be specific about what hurt. "Being a competitor, you want to be on the field," he said. "But the doctors have to make that choice to protect me. I’m not mad… well, I was a little bit mad on the sideline when I wanted to get back into the game, but you have to respect their decision."
For the most part, Bombers coach Tim Burke liked what he saw from the offence Hall led early in the game, calling the opening touchdown drive one of the top three so far this year. "I think (Hall) is getting better," Burke said. "There’s still some things he has to get better at, but I think right now he’s the best of the three."
So that much will stay the same this week, while the Bombers juggle their defensive backfield looking for "the right match-ups," Burke said. Sometimes, that could include keeping Jovon Johnson at safety, a job where he seemed to slip in and looked right at home.
Despite some questions about his physical game, Johnson laid out six tackles to tie for the Bombers lead. "I’m a very instinctive player, and I think that helps me at safety," the veteran Johnson said, and added a laugh. "Hopefully playing that spot could prolong my career for 10 more years."
Burke also said coaches are toying with the idea of starting three American offensive linemen, now that veteran and Texan Glenn January is healthy again. The hope is to energize the Bombers’ lifeless run game, he said, and he would likely balance the roster move by starting another Canadian on defence, such as linebacker Pierre-Luc Labbe.
Running back Chad Simpson was out today getting medical attention. Cory Watson wasn’t around practice either: Burke said the slotback was in Montreal attending to a personal matter, and would be back in Winnipeg on Tuesday. Receiver Chris Matthews is still out for at least three weeks.
In one interesting note, defensive back Johnny Sears was practicing again today, despite being on the nine-game injured list. Burke said Sears looked healthy, and will likely be ready to go next week.