Blue Bomber Report Record: 4–1–0

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Flashy Anderson gets nod

Pierce loses battle to replaced injured Edwards

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Fleet-footed Isaac Anderson will get a chance to strut his stuff in the starting lineup Saturday in Hamilton.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Fleet-footed Isaac Anderson will get a chance to strut his stuff in the starting lineup Saturday in Hamilton. Photo Store

On the back of Terrence Edwards' bum shoulder, a window is open for a new contender to start in Saturday's game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

 

After the Bombers' starting slotback went down with an injury this week, Bombers coaches turned their attention to two second-year players battling to grab the opportunity.

On one side: Isaac Anderson, the 5-10 slotback who can run like there's fire underneath his feet. On the other: 6-5 wide receiver Doug Pierce, tall and straight as a reed and, Bombers head coach Tim Burke said, with hands that can wrangle balls away from most any defender in the league.

'He's got a chance to beat a defensive back one-on-one with his speed -- and then after he beats 'em, he can run away from 'em. That's always a really good thing'

-- Bombers head coach Tim Burke on Isaac Anderson

By the time practice wrapped at Investors Group Field Wednesday, Burke said the club had settled on their decision: Anderson will likely get the start on Saturday and Pierce will remain a backup.

"He's got a chance to beat a defensive back one-on-one with his speed -- and then after he beats 'em, he can run away from 'em," Burke said. "That's always a really good thing."

If Anderson does go on Saturday, it'll be the first time this season he's been able to strut his stuff. After launching his pro career with the Bombers last season, Anderson spent 10 weeks on the practice roster before figuring into one game in September and three more in October.

He finished with 167 yards in 13 receptions and rushed for 19 more.

Since returning to the Bombers this year, the 24-year-old Minnesotan has been readying himself for another chance.

"I've been treating every day out here like it's a game," he said, and tipped his hat to his colleagues on the other side of the line. "It helps I get to practise against the best defence in the CFL. That gives our offence the edge. We just have to get out there and make plays."

If Anderson does figure in on Saturday, he said, he's hungry to score, to match up with his quarterback and to nail his plays as they were assigned. In his second year in the CFL and with a handful of games played, that's becoming easier to do. "The game has definitely slowed down to me since last year," the former University of Wisconsin Badger said. "Last year, I built a lot of confidence in the plays that I made."

While Anderson may be pencilled in to take Edwards' spot, Pierce is keeping his mindset game-ready, too. For the 25-year-old Texan, it's a little wrenching to be reaching for an opportunity that came after an injury to a player he looks to as a mentor.

See, where Pierce may strike a dominating figure with his height, he's also soft-spoken and on the sidelines he admits to being "real quiet," which is why it helped so much when the veteran Edwards reached out to him last year with guidance.

"He's the person who's helping me learn the game," Pierce said. "With me coming in, I was so raw. I think he saw that, and took me under his wing... he taught me route-running, reading defences, everything."

Now, with that mentorship and one full CFL season in the bag -- one that saw him slip into three games, collecting 59 yards on three receptions -- Pierce said he's settling into a rhythm.

"I've been real comfortable this year," he said. "Being on the practice squad helped me out. I know the offence now, so I'm able to play my way and still play in the offence and it feels real good."

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 11, 2013 D3

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