THE Winnipeg Blue Bombers returned to the practice field Tuesday for the first time since they were formally eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to the Toronto Argonauts at Investors Group Field Saturday.
With two more regular-season games remaining, including the second-half of a back-to-back with the Argos Thursday at Rogers Centre, the question for the Bombers after a snowy practice on Tuesday is what, if anything, is this team still playing for?
Quite a bit, actually, according to receiver Aaron Kelly.
"Whenever you're on the field, you want to be at your best," he said. "The game is on film and shown all over the place. And you don't want to embarrass yourself or your team, your fans or the name that's on the back of your jersey or the front of your jersey.
"You want to go out and play hard, regardless of your record."
Kelly missed last weekend's game with a concussion he sustained the week before in a win in Montreal, but is expected to be back in the Bombers lineup this week, barring a setback.
And that's perfect timing, given that the man who replaced Kelly versus the Argos -- former NFLer Mike Sims-Walker -- turned up lame at practice Tuesday.
Head coach Tim Burke said Sims-Walker -- who led the Bombers in receiving last weekend with eight catches for 137 yards in his first start in the CFL -- arrived for practice with a swollen knee on Tuesday. Burke said he's hopeful Sims-Walker will be better in time to play in Winnipeg's final regular-season game Nov. 2 at home versus the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Kelly's serendipitous return from injury this week wasn't the only break for the Bombers. Nickelback Desia Dunn, who also missed the Toronto game with injury, is also returning this week just in time to replace the man who replaced him last weekend -- Jeremy McGee, who injured his hamstring in the Toronto game and is now done for the season, according to Burke.
Meanwhile, Winnipeg fans will have to wait at least one more week to get a look at offensive lineman Patrick Neufeld, Winnipeg's end of the deal that sent CFL sack leader Alex Hall to the Saskatchewan Roughriders a couple weeks ago.
Neufeld is continuing to nurse a sore leg and has yet to play for Winnipeg since being acquired three weeks ago.
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