It looks like it will be Alex Brink and Joey Elliott when the Blue Bombers take on the Toronto Argonauts at Rogers Centre Wednesday night.
The club said Brink was feeling fine a day after getting knocked out of the 42-10 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos early in the fourth quarter at Commonwealth Stadium Friday night. He wasn’t feeling any headaches or any lingering symptoms related to a head injury, according to the team.
Brink was hit hard by Eskimos linebacker JC Sherritt just as he started to slide early in the fourth quarter. It was a helmet-to-helmet, bang-bang play, but Brink was in the open field and Sherritt was already committed to the hit before the pivot started to give himself up.
The Bombers were upset with the tackle (and the absence of a flag on the play), comparing it to the hit Johnny Sears made on Steven Jyles in a game against Toronto last season. Sears earned a one-game suspension from the league for his hit, though it was much more flagrant than the Sherritt knock.
Barring a setback, Brink should be on the field for a light workout at Canad Inns Stadium Sunday afternoon. Brink was 0-2 as a starter in 2011, and is winless in three career starts
as a Bomber.
Meanwhile, the optics certainly don’t look good for starting quarterback Buck Pierce. The 30-year-old was still wearing a walking boot on his left foot and using a crutch to get around when the Bombers touched down in Winnipeg Saturday morning, putting his availability in doubt for the Argos game.
Pierce hurt his foot near the end of the first quarter when Edmonton defensive tackle Ted Laurent grabbed him by the ankles on a sack. Training staff looked at his left foot and immediately shut him down for the night, suggesting the injury could be a serious one.
With those injuries, Elliott saw his first action of the 2012 season, and his first action since tearing his ACL in a game against Calgary a year ago.
Elliott was asked what it was like to come into the game after having the depth chart in front of him leave the game with injury. He referenced a game between the Bombers and Argos last season, when the Bombers were forced to use three quarterbacks — including Justin Goltz, who is the fourth-string QB this season.
"It’s never good when that happens. We were communicating all game with coverages — we all work together," Elliott said. "When one of us plays well we all play well. We’re a true ‘quarterback crew.’ "
Taking over for Brink, his first pass was a 72-yard completion to receiver Chris Matthews, who beat a couple of defenders for the Bombers only major of the day.
"Chris made a great play," the pivot said. "It’s a one-on-one matchup, he’s 6-5, have to give him an opportunity to make a play."
The Purdue quarterback finished his night 11-of-18 for 193 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, but understood the situation surrounding his season debut. The game was long over, he suggested, and it was hard for players on both sidelines to keep focus on the on-field play.
"It’s not like a real game. It’s a little different," he said. "They play different coverages, play a little bit softer, but I still have to get graded on it."
Elliott is 0-2 as a CFL starter, as well, though both his starts came as a rookie in 2010.
The Bombers will only have two days of on-field practice time before flying out to Toronto late Tuesday for Wednesday’s game. Head coach Paul LaPolice is no fan of the quick turnaround — not when he has a number of injuries on both sides of the ball and his team is reeling.
"You’d like to get guys back healthy for the next game and with the short week sometimes it’s tough," he said, alluding to the injuries to the quarterbacks; linebackers Marcellus Bowman and Brandon Stewart; right tackle Andre Douglas; defensive back Alex Suber; receiver Cory Watson; and running backs Chad Simpson and Anthony Woodson.
"I did tell the players — we have to put this game to bed. We have a lot growing to do."
The Argos sit in the same quick-turnaround boat as the Bombers, though with less of a travel concern. They played in Hamilton Saturday night, and will only have one full day on the field to prepare for Winnipeg.