It is a game dripping with intrigue and juicy storylines.
But to hear Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Drew Willy tell it, this week’s matchup with the Grey Cup champion Saskatchewan Roughriders — his old squad — is simply the seventh game on the schedule and not a contest he’s had circled since landing here in the winter.
"No, not circled," began Willy after practice Monday. "I'm just really taking it the same as we've been doing every single week. Obviously, we know they have a very good team, very good coaches and it's just a good organization. We're preparing very hard.
"We're just looking forward to the opportunity of playing them. It's going to be fun."
"Fun" fits as the best way to describe it. The Bombers said ticket sales had already passed the 30,000 mark on the weekend and are trending toward a sell out by Thursday’s kick off.
Willy said he’s taking on the "just-another game" mentality for this week, even though he has a ton of friends on the Rider roster. That said, the regular texting he does with quarterback Darian Durant will probably take a hiatus this week.
"It’s not always about football, it’s just friendly talk. We do help each other out, a lot of times, throughout the league, with what we see from other teams," Willy said. "Obviously, we probably won’t talk this week but we’ll probably say hello before the game and stuff. But we love to compete. I know he’s a big-time competitor as well. We’re just looking to go out there and lead our teams to a victory."
Meanwhile, receiver Cory Watson was back on the field working with the No. 1 offence on Monday. He’s been out since Week 1 with a hamstring injury. Defensive tackle Zach Anderson and offensive lineman Pat Neufeld were both spectators, but might still be good to go against the Riders.
"(Watson) practiced today. Again, with the roster we will wait another day. I’ve got to wait and see how they feel tomorrow," said head coach Mike O’Shea. "We’ll see how they feel when they wake up and how they feel tomorrow.
"I’m pretty confident Zach will play. It’s going to take another day for sure to see if Pat Neufeld can be on the roster."
BLUE NOTES: Receiver Donavon Kemp injured his knee near the end of practice and had to be helped off the field. The extent of his injury won’t be known until the medical staff can evaluate him… OL Quinn Everett, the club’s fourth-round draft pick in 2014, has returned to Mount Allison University.