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Mack joins players in running gassers at practice

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Winnipeg Blue Bombers general manager Joe Mack joined his offence Wednesday afternoon in running punishment "gassers" after practice at Canad Inns Stadium.

The Bombers offence was forced to run four widths of the field after taking two offside penalties during practice -- part of the strict new regime under newly installed head coach Tim Burke.

But Mack?

"That was his deal," Burke smiled. "Just trying to get in shape, I guess."

Mack and the players were running the widths of the field in 31 C temperatures and after a tiring two-hour practice, the first full practice for the team since Burke took over the club last Saturday following the sacking of former field boss Paul laPolice.

While Burke’s practice appeared from the stands to mostly resemble what LaPolice used to do, cornerback Jovon Johnson said Wednesday’s practice was significantly more tiring than anything he experienced under LaPolice.

"I guess you had to be out here to feel the difference," said Johnson. "For us DBs, running to the ball every play and then running back to the huddle, getting lined up and then having to go out and cover and do it all over again -- it takes a toll on you."

Halfback Jonathan Hefney said there’s much more emphasis under Burke on practising at game speed. "He wants us to play with more speed, start games faster and finish games strong. Basically that’s what our practice scheme has been about."

Burke was asked if getting the players to do gassers at the end of a long and hot practice was asking a lot.

"It’s not that hard. I mean, they’re professional athletes," said Burke. "They ought to be able to do gassers all day."

Burke also had no sympathy for the fact his players -- and GM, for that matter -- were doing the gassers under a humidex warning issued by Environment Canada.

"Well, I didn’t see any of them falling down," Burke laughed.

While Burke promised last weekend that his practices would also be shorter in addition to faster, today’s session was the same two-hours in duration it has been for most of the season.

FIELDNOTES -- Johnson and DE Bryant Turner both returned to full practice after sitting out an abbreviated practice on Tuesday... QB Buck Pierce did some throwing, stretching and light running but did not take any reps in the team sessions... Injured running back Carl Volny, who is still recovering from a knee injury sustained last season and has yet to play this year, took some first and second team reps on Wednesday. Burke said they will bring him along slowly... RB Chad Simpson, as has been his pattern, didn’t practise on Wednesday but is expected to start this Sunday in Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders... Defensive backs Johnny Sears and Jeremy McGee are both nursing injuries and are unlikely to dress on Sunday... RB Jerome Messam -- last year’s top Canadian in the CFL -- is in Edmonton today and could be practising with the Eskimos as early as Thursday. Messam was a late cut of the Miami Dolphins.

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