They will be wearing Winnipeg Blue Bomber jerseys and helmets, but the team Tim Burke is bringing to Guelph this week for the final preseason contest will hardly resemble the club suiting up for the opener on June 27th.
So, consider this warning from the Bomber head coach:
"We could get blasted," said Burke after practice today. "People can’t judge our team by the score of this game. I mean, we’re going to have 42 guys on this trip and they’re mostly going to be rookies, second-year players. But the thing I’m going to tell those guys is, ‘Hey, you get to compete against their No. 1s, so you get to show whether you belong in this league.’
"I’m hoping we go out and perform really well, but I’m prepared for the opposite."
The Bombers fell to the Toronto Argonauts 24-6 in their first preseason game but it’s the coaching staff mission to make sure they are healthy for Game 1 on the 27th against the Montreal Alouettes. And so, not leaving anything to chance, most of the veterans will not travel to Guelph for the final exhibition tune up, this Thursday against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
"My thing is, I just want to get us to the first game healthy. I know people have asked that... ‘Is Buck (Pierce) getting enough reps?’ Well (Matt) Nicholls (who was injured in preseason action last week) isn’t getting any reps for Edmonton and that’s not the situation I want to be in. I want to be out there with a full batch of starters ready to go, ready to compete in the first game."
Justin Goltz will start at quarterback for the Bombers and likely play the entire first half, with Max Hall and Chase Clement splitting the final two quarters. Pierce will not play at all.
"I’m confident in these young guys and I think some of them have stepped up really well in this training camp," said Goltz, when asked about being surrounded by so many CFL rookies on Thursday. "If that’s the guys I have to go with, those are the guys I have to win with. That’s just how football works.
"This will be my first game with that extended period of time and my first start. I’m going to treat it like so. This is a game wticeek for me. It may be the preseason, but I’m treating it like the regular season because if that scenario arises in the season I need to be ready to step in and be a leader and produc for the offence and eventually get some wins for us."
A number of Bombers did not practice today, including Henoc Muamba, Rene Stephan, Jameze Massey, Kenny Mainor, Demond Washington and Isaac Anderson. Burke is hoping all of them will be good to go by the opener.