Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–10–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Burke won't spare the lash

Players will pay for stupid penalties, one way or another

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Half the province thinks the guy he replaced was jobbed; the other half believes the man above him should be fired.

On top of that, the team he inherits has just two wins in eight games and is about to play in a city (Regina) where they haven't won in seven years. Oh yeah, one more thing: He's never been a head coach before.

Not exactly an ideal environment for Tim Burke to step into, is it?

"I'm pretty comfortable right now, but the game is not until next Sunday," Burke said with a wry smile at his first official media scrum Monday afternoon.

Burke, named the Blue Bombers interim head coach after Paul LaPolice was fired by GM Joe Mack, figures he's looking at two major challenges when he takes the headset as the sideline boss in the Labour Day Classic Sunday.

One, he'll have to manage all aspects of the game. Clock management, challenge flags, timeouts, making sure the right personnel is on the field -- things he's never had to do before -- and these duties can take some time to figure out. LaPolice was a prime example: Whether you're a fan of his or not, it's hard to argue that he didn't make strides as a game manager from his first season in 2010.

Burke, who is still the defensive co-ordinator, also has to guard against drifting over to the defence during games. Linebacker coach Chip Garber assumes the responsibility of handling the defence during games now, and Burke told media he'll have to remind himself to "stay out of Chip's way."

Garber, who worked as the Toronto Argonauts defensive co-ordinator in 2010 and 2011 (he was fired midway through last season), wasn't the only staff member to grab some extra responsibility now that Burke is in charge.

Special teams coach Kyle Walters serves as Burke's right-hand man during games, acting as a sounding board for the first-time head coach during in-game stresses.

The new head coach also suggested he would solicit veteran players' opinions, as well, referencing a scenario back in his Montreal days when head coach Marc Trestman would ask former receiver Ben Cahoon what he saw at certain points of the game.

"I'm probably going to do the same with a couple of veterans," Burke said.

 

HARD LINE: The word "discipline" will be thrown around a lot during the Burke era, as the coach built his reputation on being tough and direct with players under his command. That won't change now that he's in change of the entire roster.

"Structure," as Burke put it Monday, was something LaPolice lacked, Mack insinuated over the weekend. A fair assessment of the former coach or not, the youthful Bombers under LaPolice were among the most-penalized teams in the CFL in his two-plus seasons.

Burke says he's going to change that. Please note the following punishments:

"Unsportsmanlike conduct (penalties), they'll be fined," Burke said. "And the offsides... I still haven't determined that, but it's going to involve some sort of physical discomfort. Not during a game, during practice."

Burke deflected a suggestion that the atmosphere in Bomberland was too relaxed under LaPolice.

"I can't say that I would say that; I would just say I'm probably more rigid," he said. "That could be good and that could be bad."

 

INJURY BUG: Defensive back Johnny Sears appears "doubtful" for the game in Regina. Sears suffered an upper-body injury in the second half of the 20-17 loss to the B.C. Lions last Friday.

Demond Washington, who had an interception Friday, would fill in for Sears.

Receiver Cory Watson (undisclosed) should be fine for Sunday, but probably won't be an active participant at practice until the end of the week, Burke added.

The Bombers are back on the field today at 11:25 a.m.

adam.wazny@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @wazoowazny

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 28, 2012 D2

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