December 11, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
A little hatred helps
THERE'S no love lost between the Blue Bombers and the Montreal Alouettes -- a fact the Bombers head coach picked up on through last Thursday's game.
When asked after Monday's practice if he was aware of some bitter feelings between the squads, Tim Burke said it wasn't coming from the coaching staff. "I noticed that some of the players were pretty fired up," Burke said. "I don't know what that's all about... I'm all about we can only control ourselves. We can't control who the opponent is, they're nameless and faceless. We just want to execute and do our jobs."
On the plus side, Burke will have most of his key players available when the Bombers face the Als again on Thursday in Montreal. Though the squad was a little banged-up after their season-opener last Thursday, the walking wounded were all back in action at Monday's practice.
Quarterback Buck Pierce, receiver Chris Matthews and running back Chad Simpson all took their usual reps with the team at a brisk Canada Day practice, after the three sat out Sunday to get their bodies rested and ready. "Obviously, Buck was out there today taking all the reps with the first team," Burke said. "He's healthy to go."
As for the longer-term outlook, receiver Kito Poblah is still out with an injury, and Burke said his recovery is going "slowly." Defensive back Johnny Sears isn't expected back in game action until next week's tilt in Hamilton at the earliest.
In one little heart-stopper, defensive end Zach Anderson took what Burke called a kick in the shin near the end of practice Monday, and looked a little hurt. Burke said he didn't believe it was serious -- good thing, since Anderson is coming off the practice roster to replace JT Gilmore, who is expected to be out a month with a calf injury.
Ford getting his kicks
WITH Chad Simpson holding down the starting tailback job in 2013, fellow Bombers running back Will Ford is getting his playing time these days as Winnipeg's kickoff returner.
Ford returned seven kickoffs for 131 yards versus the Alouettes last week, but thinks he can do a lot better than that once he settles into the job.
"I'd give it a (grade of) C," said Ford. "I want to run it back every time. It doesn't happen like that, but that's just my goal."
Ford was a kickoff returner in his freshman and sophomore years at South Carolina State and he said he's glad to be the lone man back again.
"You get more space, you get more room to move. I love it," said Ford.
"As I look at the pre-season and what we did, maybe we will re-evaluate that for next season. But that's past now and we have to move forward." --Bombers offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton, sounding like he might be having second thoughts about resting most of the team's offensive starters in the pre-season.
Upon Further Review (Part 2)
"Anytime you throw a pick on the first play and you don't play much in the pre-season, obviously everyone is going to think that." --Bombers QB Buck Pierce on the suggestion that his struggles in Week 1 were simply rust.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 2, 2013 C3