STEVE Morley digs a saying: "Tough times don't last but tough people do," and that's what the Bombers offensive lineman leans on now.
On Friday, Morley will not be starting at guard against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. It will be the first Bombers game in over three seasons that Morley hasn't started at guard. Before that, he started a full season at left tackle too. That's a solid Iron Man streak now snapped by this simple fact: the Bombers are 1-5, the run game has gotten stuffed too much and Bombers quarterbacks have been sacked 21 times, the second-highest tally in the league.
'I've been doing this for 11 years. I've seen a lot of stuff happen, and we're 1-5 and they're going to try and find answers. I thought I was doing some good things, but I'm not going to be negative about it... I intend on being a tough person here down the line'
-- Steve Morley
So something upfront was going to change.
At 31, Morley gets that part, he's been around.
"I've been doing this for 11 years," he said on Wednesday. "I've seen a lot of stuff happen, and we're 1-5 and they're going to try and find answers. I thought I was doing some good things, but I'm not going to be negative about it... I intend on being a tough person here down the line."
It's not personal, it's business, and Bombers business now decrees that coaches think someone else has been playing a little better, in practice. When asked if Morley played his way off the line, or third-year Bomber Paul Swiston played his way on, Bombers head coach Tim Burke gave a balanced answer. "Little of both," he said. "(Swiston) has become a little more consistent as a player."
That took longer to happen than coaches once hoped, but Swiston is still only 24. The Bombers drafted the Calgarian, a 6-9 bear of a man, in 2011. He dressed for all 18 games last year and figured in the play here and there, playing at tackle and tight end. But this is his first pro start at guard, and he said he's ready. He said he's got the playbook figured out, so there's more excitement than jittery nerves.
"I'm just excited to get to show myself," Swiston said. "Knowing the ins and outs of it, it just comes down to hitting somebody at that point."
Well, that's what coaches are looking for. After Wednesday's practice, offensive line coach Pat Del Monaco pointed to that physicality as why Swiston is getting the nod, and Morley will move back. As the game has slowed down for Swiston, Del Monaco said, the younger lineman is biting back harder.
"Now, you watch him as he blocks, he's not just blocking to fit, he's blocking to knock people down," he said.
If there's a silver lining in this for Morley, the vet, it's that he may finally get a chance to play with the ball. The Bombers are slotting him at tight end, and he made some catches at practice. The last time he put yards on a CFL scoresheet was back in 2009, when he caught a tipped ball and ran it for eight yards.
"I do have some experience with the ball in my hands," he said. "Hopefully, game day I can catch a few and help the team out."
Because that's what it's really all about, he said, just keeping your head down and plugging along, and maybe giving the junior Swiston a few tips for his new job.
"We're close friends, there's no hard feelings between me and him," Morley said. "If he needs any help, we're always really supportive of each other."