You can give the early edge in the battle to see who will be Buck Pierce’s backup at starting quarterback in 2013 to Max Hall — at least this week.
Hall — who started three games for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals in 2010 — has impressed the Winnipeg Blue Bombers coaching staff with the crispness of his passes and the quickness of his reads during the first two days of the club’s mini-camp this week at Winnipeg Indoor Soccer Complex.
Bombers head coach Tim Burke said that he busied himself on Thursday working with his defence, but he said a detailed look at the film from Wednesday’s practice left him impressed with Hall.
"I think Max did a good job understanding the offence and getting the ball off quick. Chase (Clement) was a little bit slower on his reads, but I think that’s only because of Max’s experience with a version of the West Coast offence with Arizona. And the offence they had at BYU when he was there was kind of a carryover from (Bombers offensive coordinator) Gary (Crowton’s) offence when he was there."
Hall played at BYU from 2007-09, where Crowton was the head coach from 2001-04.
The fact Burke seems to have given the early edge to Hall in the backup battle so far is not a surprise. Burke said Wednesday that Clement’s strength is his mobility and the former Rice standout won’t get a chance to really show that until full training camp begins June 2 and everyone straps on the pads.
The other wrinkle in the back-up battle is Justin Goltz. The veteran Bombers backup isn’t at mini-camp this week because his wife is due to give birth any day, but he is expected to get a long hard look as the No. 2 man once full camp begins.
Burke said he’s been delighted with the progress that’s been made during the first two days of mini-camp.
"I think the mini-camp is going great. We’re getting a lot of plays in, the quarterbacks are getting a lot of reps. We’ve got the new plays in on offence and the new coverages in on defence — I really like what we’re seeing out there.
"I think we have a real up-tempo practice going. I’m really happy with it."
Burke said he’s liked what he’s seen so far this week in veteran receiver Clarence Denmark and he also singled out the athleticism of receiver Jameze Massey, the diminutive rookie speedster the Bombers are hoping will be their punt returner this season.
Burke did add, however, that Massey needs to show better hands catching the ball.
"But once he catches it, he can make something happen," said Burke.
Burke also said he likes what he’s been seeing out of rookie DB Desia Dunn. "For only being the second day in the CFL, he’s really grasped the mental part of it. And he’s a really good athlete. I’m really happy with him."
Burke was asked what he’s expecting this season from linebacker Terrell Parker, who the team is going to audition this spring as the replacement for the departed Marcellus Bowman at weak-side linebacker. "He’s got very good speed and I think he’s a real good hitter," said Burke. "So for him, I think he’s just got to learn the mental part of it. And if he does that, I think he could be a really good player."