Winnipeg Blue Bombers starting QB Drew Willy pronounced himself fit and ready to go for the Banjo Bowl this Sunday at Investors Group Field after practicing on Thursday for the first time since injuring his ankle in a Bombers loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina last Sunday.
"I feel okay. I’m definitely looking forward to being out there and playing in front of our great crowd. It’s obviously a huge game for us and we’re looking forward to it," Willy told reporters after practice at Investors Group Field.
"I’ll be out there and ready to go."
Willy was asked if his lukewarm self-assessment of feeling "okay" is expected to improve as the week goes on.
"I think I’ll only get better. It will just keep progressing. Every single day, I’ve been getting treatment. I felt pretty good out here today."
Willy was injured during his team’s loss to the Riders but did return to finish the game.
Willy’s return to the practice field was about the only good news on the injury front for the Bombers:
- Injured linebacker/long-snapper Ian Wild didn’t practice Thursday. And while head coach Mike O’Shea repeated that he’s hopeful Wild might still play at IGF against the Riders this Sunday, he had special teamer Carl Fitzgerald working on his long-snapping during practice;
- Slotback Nick Moore (high ankle sprain) didn’t practice and O’Shea agreed that his estimate to reporters on Wednesday that Moore could be out "a couple weeks" was a best case scenario and could in fact be much longer than that. Romby Bryant took first-team reps in place of Moore;
- Defensive lineman Jason Vega took first team reps after sitting out last Sunday’s game as a healthy scratch. Vega is filling in for Kashawn Fraser, who started the last couple weeks but got hurt on Sunday. Fraser was a spectator on Thursday;
- Offensive linemen Patrick Neufeld and Matthias Goossen, who both sat out last Sunday with injuries, are still hurt and won’t play again this week, said O’Shea. The first-team O-line at practice on Thursday was the same as the Bombers used in Regina - right tackle Cordarro Howard, right guard Jarvis Jones, centre Steve Morley, left guard Chris Greaves and left tackle Glenn January;
- Defensive end Thaddeus Gibson, who the Bombers acquired in a trade with Toronto this week, hasn’t yet joined the Bombers in Winnipeg. O’Shea explained Gibson had a trip planned for what is a bye week for the Argos this week and was told he could go ahead and take it as he wasn’t going to play this week anyway.
In other Bombers news on Thursday, former Winnipeg wide receiver Chris Matthews - the 2012 CFL rookie of the year - was cut from the practice roster of the Seattle Seahawks. Matthews has workouts planned for this week with two other NFL teams.
The Bombers are in talks with Matthews and would love to have him back in Blue and Gold, but the Ottawa Redblacks are also expected to be aggressive bidders if Matthews is unable to land another NFL gig.