WINNIPEG Blue Bombers general manager Joe Mack joined his offence Wednesday afternoon in running punishment "gassers" after practice at Canad Inns Stadium.
The Bombers offence was forced to run four widths of the field after taking two offside penalties during practice -- part of the strict new regime under newly installed interim head coach Tim Burke.
"That was his deal," Burke said with a smile. "Just trying to get in shape I guess."
Mack and the players were running the widths of the field in 31 C temperatures and after a tiring two-hour practice, the first full practice for the team since Burke took over the club last Saturday following the sacking of former field boss Paul LaPolice.
While Burke's practice appeared from the stands to mostly resemble what LaPolice used to do, cornerback Jovon Johnson said Wednesday's session was significantly more tiring than anything he experienced under LaPolice.
" I guess you had to be out here to feel the difference," said Johnson. "For us DBs, running to the ball every play and then running back to the huddle, getting lined up and then having to go out and cover and do it all over again -- it takes a toll on you."
Defensive back Jonathan Hefney said there's much more emphasis under Burke on practising at game speed.
"He wants us to play with more speed, start games faster and finish games strong. Basically that's what our practice scheme has been about."
Burke was asked if getting the players to do gassers at the end of a long and hot practice was asking a lot.
"It's not that hard. I mean they're professional athletes," said Burke. "They ought to be able to do gassers all day."
Burke also had no sympathy for the fact his players -- and GM, for that matter -- were doing the gassers under a humidex warning issued by Environment Canada.
"Well, I didn't see any of them falling down," said Burke, laughing.
While Burke promised last weekend that his practices would also be shorter in addition to faster, yesterday's session was the same two-hours in duration it has been for most of the season.
RB Jerome Messam -- last year's top Canadian in the CFL -- was in Edmonton Wednesday and could be practising with the Eskimos as early as today. Messam was a late cut of the Miami Dolphins. The Eskimos are already deep at running back, with recently acquired Cory Boyd and Hugh Charles handling the ball-carrying duties.
Grey Cup whistle stop tour
The Grey Cup 100 Train Tour, which will see a specially outfitted train carrying the iconic trophy and other CFL memorabilia stop in 100 Canadian communities this fall in celebration of the Grey Cup centennial, will make one of several Manitoba stops at The Forks on Oct. 6, the league announced Wednesday. You can get more details at greycuptour.ca.