After a week of watching practice, an organized controlled scrimmage — even if it was just for 20 minutes — counts as a big deal at Winnipeg Blue Bombers training camp.
Emerging from the locker room after a 20-minute spell to avoid the worst of the lightning, the coaches put the players through the paces of a game simulation at a soggy Canad Inns Stadium Saturday. Head coach Paul LaPolice made the most of the less than ideal weather conditions, treating the break as a simulated halftime before sending out his charges for the third quarter.
Quarterback Buck Pierce led the first-team offence against the first-team defence and marched his unit down the field for a touchdown. The big play: a 46-yard completion to receiver Paul Hubbard over defensive back Jovon Johnson for the major score.
Hubbard was one of three rookie receivers who impressed during the mock-game. Doug Pierce made a difficult grab in traffic over defensive back Johnny Sears in one series, while Chris Matthews put his 6-foot-5 frame to good use, catching two passes from quarterback Alex Brink over Johnson.
The second was a jump ball fade to the front corner of the endzone over the reigning CFL defensive player of the year, a grab that drew a nice ovation from the small crowd at the stadium.
Matthews said he was pleased with his effort Saturday.
"You have to make plays," the 22-year-old offered. "You can’t be content on just making a catch or two here and there, you have to do it on a consistent basis. Doesn’t matter if it’s raining or snowing out there — just catch the ball.
"I wasn’t the only one out there catching the ball well (Saturday).
There’s a good group here. We’re trying to make it hard for the defence and for the coaches."
Of the half-dozen or so Bombers battling injury after a week of training camp, only defensive back Alex Suber returned to action today.
The club is back on the field Sunday morning (8:30 a.m.).