PIVOT ON POINT
The Bombers' quarterback carousel made another revolution on Thursday, as coach Tim Burke announced that Jason Boltus, not Justin Goltz, will play backup to Max Hall in tonight's game against the Edmonton Eskimos.
Boltus, 27, has only figured into two CFL games before, both with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats near the end of the 2011 season. But coaches like what they've seen in him since he joined the roster late last month.
"We feel like he's maybe moving up a little bit," Burke said. "He's been doing well in practice, and coming along. So if Max were to go down, we're going to give him his shot."
ROOKIES ON THE LINE
EVEN before the Bombers offensive line was ravaged by injuries, it wasn't exactly a fortress. Now, Max Hall will be protected by a group that includes Tyson Pencer, making just his second CFL start, and recent additions Jason Jarvis and Dan Knapp, who haven't even been in Winnipeg a week. A pivot might be forgiven for feeling a little nervous, but Hall spoke only of his faith in the group.
"The guys we brought in are good players, and I trust them," Hall said. "I have to. I can't worry about it, I can't be looking at the rush, I have to go through my reads and trust those guys will do it. And I think they will."
Burke too sounded optimistic about the new additions, describing them as athletic players who were mostly just adapting to new terminology, which is taught in similar ways across football but sometimes called different things.
As for the players themselves, Knapp praised the job coaches did in preparing the newcomers for the game, though he noted he hasn't been able to arrange to get any of his Nevada family up to Canada to see him start.
"I just got here on Monday, so I'm still trying to work out my cellphone plan," he quipped.
JJ SLIDES TO SAFETY
WITH Cauchy Muamba down for the count, Jovon Johnson will slide into safety, continuing his tradition of being a jack-of-all-trades on the defence.
The only positions Johnson hasn't played are defensive tackle, end, and middle and will linebacker, he said, and with his veteran status the switch made sense.
"I've been in the defence probably longer than all of our coaches, so I know what's going on," he said. "I know the defence inside and out."
Marty Markett will take over for Johnson at cornerback.
The only question now is whether Johnson can hit hard enough for the safety gig: on Thursday, he grinned and said that wouldn't be a problem, but it won't just be fans curious to find out.
"The three things you want is a guy with range, a guy with football savvy, and a guy who's a big hitter," Burke said. "I know for sure he can do two of those things. Whether he's a big hitter or not, we'll see."
AGONY OF D-FEAT
BURKE was none too thrilled by some gaffes in how the Bombers defence read the Eskimos' play plans last week, especially ones that made use of Mike Reilly's fleet feet.
"We had a check for the quarterback draw early in the game, and we didn't get to it," Burke said. "Which is really weird, because normally your linebackers, the first thing they look at is the backfield. You would have thought they would have noticed there wasn't a back in there."
Basically, Burke said, the defence just "didn't do its job" shutting down Reilly's run options. This week, Bombers coaches pushed that in video study, though he knows nothing is ever quite that simple. "Obviously, we've worked on all of those plays, but I'm sure they'll have some sort of little twist for us," he said.