WINNIPEG Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke has asked his players to turn those frowns upside down.
Heading into Montreal to meet the 8-5 Alouettes on Monday, the 3-10 Bombers have a monster task in front of them and Burke figures a it's time to try some positive reinforcement.
"When you're 3-10, there's tremendous pressure on you to win," Burke said after Friday's practice. "We're all human, we put so much pressure on ourselves. I'm just trying to take that off of them."
The Alouettes are quarterbacked by the Canadian Football League's best passer in Anthony Calvillo, who has led his team to a scoring average of 27.7 points per game. Meanwhile, the Bombers have had more points scored against them than any other team, an average of 31.2 per game, and are the only CFL team not to register a win on the road at 0-6.
"There's been so much of that pressure put on them. When you put too much pressure on yourself, people tend not to react the way they want to react," Burke said. "If you just cut loose and have fun, we'll just see what happens."
Right tackle Shannon Boatman said the team will take that advice to heart.
"If we go out there with the right mindset and the right focus, we should be able to take care of business," Boatman said. "It may not be the start of the five-game winning streak that we need to get to the playoffs, but we just have to start with Montreal."
-- Import O-lineman Lee Barbiasz, one of the three new players added by the Bombers on Thursday to the practice roster, attended Thursday's practice then reportedly told staff "this ain't for me" and left the team.
Was it the 3-10 record or the minus-3 with freezing rain and winds gusting to 60 kilometres per hour?
"He said it (football) wasn't that important to him anymore. I guess he got up here and had second thoughts," Burke said.
Barbiasz was released Aug. 31 by the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars and received an offer by the Bombers Sept. 18. On Sept. 24 he tweeted that he was about to "just hit the reset button on my left and start over new with everything."
-- Each of 3-10 Winnipeg's top three quarterbacks on the depth chart have a win -- Alex Brink on July 26 (23-22 over Edmonton), Joey Elliott on Aug. 16 (32-25 over Hamilton) and Buck Pierce (34-12 over Hamilton).
Since Pierce is out this week with a concussion, missing his ninth game this season, Elliott has the chance to be the first of the three pivots to get a second win.
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @WFPAshleyPrest