THE players are who they are and that's not really going to be changing much, including -- at least for this week -- at starting quarterback.
That was the message on Tuesday from Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke, who faced a huge media scrum in what was the first opportunity for the local jackals to get at Burke since the Bombers were drilled 52-0 in Regina on Sunday by the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The biggest news was that quarterback Buck Pierce, who's now missed six games with a foot injury, will get an expanded role at practice this week but still isn't healthy enough to get into game conditions, meaning Joey Elliott will once again get the start when the Bombers again face the Riders this Sunday at Canad Inns Stadium in the annual Banjo Bowl.
Elliott has started the last three games for Winnipeg and his performances have regressed statistically with each game, hitting bottom in Regina when he threw for just 61 yards.
Still, Burke said he didn't hesitate to give Elliott the start once again, even after the Labour Day collapse.
"One person is never to blame for such a terrible loss,'' said Burke.
Burke also rejected as unrealistic any suggestion the 2-7 Bombers might consider making wholesale changes to personnel.
"You can't change at this time of the year. If you bring guys in, they have to learn the CFL game, they have to learn how to play in the system. And by the time you do that, it's three or four weeks down the line.
"We're going to win with the guys we have and we're going to go as hard as we can go."
If their jobs aren't on the line, Burke was asked how he will motivate his players to turn this season around.
"I'm hoping pride drives them," said Burke. "Pride as a group, pride as a team, pride as an individual. I hope that drives them more than anything else."
While they played badly in Regina, Burke rejected any suggestion his players put forth less than a complete effort on Sunday.
"I didn't think the effort was bad. Guys were really playing their butts off, even when we were way behind. It was assignment mistakes more than anything else...
"And to be quite honest with you, we had guys on offence and defence and special teams -- some guys were doing their own thing. That's the stuff we're going to address this week."
Burke was asked if all the fan clamour after the game -- including calls on Facebook for GM Joe Mack to be fired -- was creating a distraction for him in just his second week as the team's head coach.
"First of all, I'm not aware of it because I don't go on Facebook. And secondly, especially now that I'm in this role as head coach, I don't read the newspapers or watch TV. Not the news at least."
Burke was asked if he had any message for Bombers fans.
"Yeah," he replied, "we're not dead yet. We're going to go out there and give it everything we got. And we need their support."
FIELD NOTES -- Burke said defensive backs Jeremy McGee and Johnny Sears are still injured and won't suit up on Sunday... Guard Steve Morley (ankle) was seeing a doctor on Tuesday and his status for Sunday had yet to be determined... Non-import running back Carl Volny could be in the lineup this week, said Burke.