December 6, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
This much Tim Burke knows for sure: At least four quarterbacks will take reps at Investors Group Field when Winnipeg's training camp opens.
The Blue Bombers head coach also knows that Buck Pierce will be one of them, and that Alex Brink probably will be, and that the organization sees a lot of raw talent in Justin Goltz. But with the release this week of Joey Elliott, any other quarterbacks the Bombers hope to bring to camp are unknown as is which one will saddle up as starter when the season opens in June.
"The guys we're looking at (bringing in) would be guys we're hoping will be the future of our franchise," Burke told the media on Tuesday.
Pierce may win that starter's job again. But also, maybe not: When asked if Elliott's release means that Pierce will be the Bombers' go-to guy in camp, Burke demurred.
"It does not mean that," he said, measuring words in a careful clip. "It just means that Joey won't be."
Still, Burke said there is no situation he can think of where Pierce won't be in camp, where he won't figure on to the Bombers' roster someway or somehow.
"He's a team guy, and he's a competitor," Burke said. "Buck will say, 'I'll do anything you want.' And so... we're looking at him in all different roles, but one of them is as the starter."
As for Elliott -- who was released along with veteran safety Ian Logan -- Burke gave few specifics on the decision.
True, he agreed, Elliott had eked ahead on the depth chart at one point last season, when he stepped in for an injured Pierce and delivered a robust 403-yard passing game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
"Then we replaced Joey with Brink later on, so I guess that answers (the) question," Burke said.
"This is a continuing discussion amongst us as to who's going to be the starter, who's going to be the backup. And we just felt the other quarterbacks would take us a step closer to the Grey Cup."
The same goes for safety Cauchy Muamba, the former B.C. Lion who the Bombers signed early in free agency. The team planned to have Muamba and Logan battle for the starting job, but between salary cap considerations and watching video, decided to let the axe fall on Logan early.
"As we went along, we just felt like Cauchy's play last year was better than Ian's play," Burke said. "Eventually, someone would have had to go."
With seven-year Bomber veteran Logan gone, the team will look to Dan West, Jawann Westerman and University of Manitoba alumnus Teague Shermann to push Muamba in camp.
"We've got some guys in that position, and there's potentially one or two guys in the draft coming up as well," Burke said.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 27, 2013 C2