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Buck still top banana

Might not be able to play Friday, but QB has Burke's backing

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Buck PIERCE might not play next Friday at home against the Calgary Stampeders, but he remains the Winnipeg Blue Bombers starting quarterback.

Bombers head coach Tim Burke said that an abdominal injury Pierce sustained when he took a helmet to the stomach in a 35-19 loss Friday night to the Toronto Argonauts continued to bother the veteran QB on Saturday.

"He's got abdominal pain, so right now we'd have to say he's questionable for this (coming) week," Burke told reporters during an availability at Investors Group Field Saturday afternoon.

"We'll at least go into the week not knowing who the starting quarterback will be. And then we'll just have to see -- can we make a decision by (Tuesday)? I'd rather not have to go all the way to (Wednesday) before making that decision."

By Paul Wiecek

If Pierce cannot go, the Bombers will start backup Justin Goltz, who showed some promise in taking over for Pierce in Friday night's second half. Goltz was 13-of-15 for 170 yards.

But while Pierce is questionable for this coming week, Burke poured cold water on any budding quarterback controversy by saying several times the fourth-year Bombers QB remains the club's starting pivot, even as many fans frustrated by the club's 1-3 season record clamour to have Goltz take the reins.

"You know what? Everybody clamours for the backup quarterback," said Burke.

Asked if he still felt Pierce gives his team the best chance to win, Burke replied: "At this point, yes."

Burke said he felt Pierce started Friday night's game well, but came apart after a second-quarter interception that Burke says came on a ball Pierce never should have thrown.

"He's just got to try not to win the game all himself. And I think when he threw that intercept, that was trying to do too much, instead of just throwing the ball underneath or throw it out of bounds or just run it," said Burke.

"He was in a good rhythm. And I just think if he can keep doing that, then he's the guy to be playing."

Burke said Pierce will see doctors on Monday.

Burke also updated the club's extensive injury situation. Nickelback Johnnie Sears, who hurt his foot Friday night in his first game back since a knee injury last season, will not play against Calgary.

Defensive tackle Bryant Turner, who's missed two games already with strained chest ligaments, is questionable again for next week. "I thought he was going to be ready," said Burke, "but now it's questionable."

Also listed as questionable is receiver Chris Matthews, who missed the Toronto game with a bad back.

Defensive tackle JT Gilmore is likely to miss at least another week, said Burke, as will slotback Cory Watson, who could be out as much as a month after pulling a hamstring last Wednesday. Nickelback Desia Dunn and long-snapper Chris Cvetokovic will also not play versus Calgary, said Burke.

On the upside, all-star receiver Terrence Edwards is likely to be back for the Calgary game, while receiver Kito Poblah is finally expected to begin practising again this week.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 21, 2013 B5

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