Cory Watson is back in for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this week as a long-standing rivalry with the Saskatchewan Roughriders gets rekindled.
Bomber head coach Mike O’Shea confirmed after practice today that Watson, a physically-dominating pass catcher who has battled the injury bug the last two seasons, will be back in the lineup against the Riders for Thursday’s game at Investors Group Field. Watson has been out since the Bombers’ Week 1 victory over the Toronto Argonauts but his reps with the offence may be limited as he works to get back into game shape.
O’Shea said Julian Feoli-Gudino will continue as a starter in the receiving corps and any other potential changes – including the possibility of Matthias Goossen starting for Pat Neufeld at guard – won’t be made official until closer to kickoff.
The game pits the defending Grey-Cup champion Riders, now 3-2, against the Bombers – who are 5-1 in their return to the West Division. That alone, plus comments from Bomber defensive tackle Zach Anderson, who suggested the Rider O-line was ‘dirty’, helps stokes the fire of a rivalry that lost some of its oomph with Winnipeg’s woes over the past two seasons.
"If there’s been a drop off, I certainly haven’t noticed it," said Bomber offensive lineman Glenn January. "The fans still turn out and they’re ready to support whoever they’re cheering for. This is obviously a bit more of an important game, outside of the rivalry, with us being in the West again and facing these guys in three of the next five games. We’re excited to play a Western opponent that we were able to beat one time last year. We’re ready to strap them on.
"This is a game that you can throw out all the stats and everything. It’s a heated rivalry and there’s a lot of motivation on both sides to succeed. Saskatchewan started off rocky, but they’ve been looking pretty damn good in this recent stretch. We have to give our best effort out there or it’s going to be a long night."