Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Doing things Burke's way

New Bombers boss wastes little time instilling his coaching philosophy

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Ho-hum, another new head coach for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

For those scoring at home, Tim Burke, the recently anointed interim head man, counts as the third head coach for veteran right guard Steve Morley in this, his fourth season in River City (Mike Kelly and Paul LaPolice, who was let go Saturday, are the others).

It's no big deal, though. Riding the angry seas of a new boss is becoming old hat for the 31-year-old, as he's had no less than 11 head coaches in his 10-year professional football career.

"It's a funny game, isn't it?" Morley said after a quick practice at Canad Inns Stadium Tuesday, the first under the Burke regime. "You just try to listen to what they say and you try to adapt to their schedule and their way of doing things as fast as possible. As you saw out here, coach Burke has a completely different way of doing things. Practice time is changed, practice schedule is changed, meetings have changed, the tempo is changed -- everything is new again.

"I have a lot of respect for Paul. I thought he did a great job. Coach Burke, as he said, is more rigid. In meetings (Tuesday), he was like Cal Murphy up there talking to us, just laying it out in a straightforward manner. That's what it kind of reminded me of."

Morley was huffing and puffing after practice, an indication of just how uptempo Burke's practices are going to be. The club started Tuesday's workout 20 minutes early and the practice featured a lot of the one-on-one work -- receiver versus defensive back, defensive line versus offensive line -- promised over the weekend.

Burke also delivered on a promise he would wield a bigger whip when it comes to penalties. Winnipeg took 13 penalties in Friday's 20-17 loss to the B.C. Lions, leading to a handful of players running 'gassers' (four widths of the football field, one sideline to the other) after the practice session.

"The players have to take responsibility for those 13 penalties that we had," said veteran receiver Terrence Edwards, who was forced to run due to his offside penalty in that game. "We have to be smarter than (that). It's always been the emphasis. Today, it was a little more emphasized.

"I can tell you this: It's going to be a long time before I go offside again."

Just FYI: Burke is Edwards' fourth head coach in six years in Winnipeg (he joined the club during the Doug Berry years).

Anyway, like LaPolice did before him, the "rigid" Burke will issue fines to players who take selfish major penalties (roughing the passer, late hit, etc.). Pre-snap fouls like offsides and procedures will be subject to gassers, as will pass-interference calls and holding penalties. All infractions are subject to punishment, something LaPolice didn't do.

"I'm just coaching according to my personality," Burke said. "I feel like I'm a driven guy and I'm self-disciplined, and I expect them to be that way. If it comes across as being hard-ass or whatever, that's the way it is. I'm just being straightforward with them.

"I don't beat around the bush. This is the way it is."

The defensive players are more familiar with Burke's ways, so Tuesday was more about the offensive unit getting to digest what their new head coach was all about. As expected, given how Burke is the new boss and everyone's position is under the microscope now, the first impressions were voiced carefully to reporters.

Edwards: "We just get to get on board and buy in to what he's trying to do. He's the new head coach now. Everything we did before, you got to throw it out the window."

Left tackle Glenn January: "You'll see the team take on his personality."

Quarterback Buck Pierce: "He brings a different presence. It's a change. Change is only good if it works. I can promise you that he's going to bring some attitude and a mentality -- starting now -- that's going to be different."

Before you arrived, Buck, that's what players said about all the other guys, too. Twitter: @wazoowazny

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 29, 2012 C3

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