The Winnipeg Blue Bombers turned the page on Sunday’s crushing loss by announcing the starting quarterback for the next game.
Surprise, surprise: It’s not Buck Pierce.
Interim head coach Tim Burke told members of the media Monday afternoon that Joey Elliott -- and not the veteran Pierce -- will once again get the start when the Bombers (2-8) travel to Calgary to take on the Stampeders (6-4) Friday night.
Pierce is healthy enough to play, Burke said, but the club’s coaching and medical staff thought best if they gave him another week of practice before inserting him into the lineup.
"As far as health goes, he could play," Burke said of Pierce. "We just feel like it’s not enough time to get ready. Basically all he’s done, in the last week he’s taken reps in the individual (portion of practice) and he’s taken some scout team reps against our defence – but those haven’t been very many, either.
"That’s only been one week out of the last eight weeks… that’s the reason why."
Pierce has missed the last seven games with a left foot injury. He only started practising with the club last week and will continue to get more time under centre this week, Burke said. Elliott, who went 19-of-33 for 241 yards in Sunday’s 25-24 Banjo Bowl loss, gets his fifth straight start in Calgary, a place the Bombers haven’t won in since the 2002 season.
Elliott is 1-3 as a starter this year.
Burke said the urgency of Winnipeg’s situation came into play when making the decision to sit Pierce and start Elliott. The two-win Bombers are in last place in the CFL and riding a three game losing streak. They need to start winning, Burke suggested, and they’ll try to do it without their No. 1 QB this week.
"We want to have the best people out there, but it’s just not fair to Buck to put him in that situation with one day of preparation to try to go out there and get us a ‘W,’" Burke said. "The best thing for him and the team is one more week."
Other Bombers news Monday:
- Running back Carl Volny will be in the lineup against the Stampeders, the head coach said. Volny has missed the first 10 games recovering from a knee and hamstring injury dating back to a September game in Toronto last year. His inclusion should allow the Bombers to add another import on defence.
- Burke also listed defensive back Johnny Sears as "probable" for the Calgary game.
- The news wasn’t as good for right tackle Jordan Taormina. The rookie import is out another week with "stinger" suffered in the Labour Day Classic. Shannon Boatman will continue to take his spot along the offensive line.
- The coach said he will fine defensive lineman Kenny Mainor, special teamer James Green and Boatman for their major penalties against Saskatchewan. He also plans to talk to each of them about how their undisciplined actions hurt the team.
- Burke also expressed some regret over the Winnipeg’s defensive scheme in the final seconds of the game Sunday. If he could do it over again, the coach would have tried to get more pressure on the quarterback – instead of dropping his secondary back into a zone defence. With 28 seconds left in the game, Riders rookie quarterback Drew Willy marched the ball 43 yards in three plays and into position for a last-second field goal from Sandro DeAngelis, giving the visitors a one-point win.