Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Peach primed for more action

Defensive end to help fill gap left by CFL sack leader's departure

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IN five seasons in this league, Greg Peach has seen guys get hurt or traded, some guys lose starting spots and others get released.

Still, the Bombers defensive end hasn't seen a situation quite like the one he's living this week, after Alex Hall was handed to the Saskatchewan Roughriders for Canadian offensive lineman Patrick Neufeld. Peach will help fill the gaping space the CFL's sack leader left behind.

"It's a weird situation," Peach said after practice on Thursday. "I've never jumped into a starting role because the best pass rusher in the league got traded."

Yeah, Peach said, the news came down on Sunday as a big surprise, although he added he understands why it made sense to get the Hall trade done. He explained it to some of the younger guys too, the ones fresh out of college who aren't used to seeing good players sent packing.

"I try to tell 'em how the business works," he said. "It's different than college. It's out of our control. We just have to do our part, just be happy you're still here."

And the pressure doesn't hang too heavily on Peach's shoulders. He hasn't asked coaches how many more snaps he'll see against the Alouettes on Monday, and they haven't told him. Even when Hall was around, he figured he was playing for his job every day anyway.

"He's a great pass rusher, but I also look at myself as a great pass rusher," Peach said. "I'm here for a reason, and I have confidence in myself to do well if given the opportunity."

That's a glimpse of the attitude Bombers coaching staff like in Peach, and what they want to see. Yes, head coach Tim Burke agreed, it will be hard to replace Hall's sheer ability. But the 26-year-old Peach has a motor in him that won't quit.

"I think Greg will do a good job," Burke said. "He's more of a try hard, carry-your-lunchpail-to-work kind of guy. He's going to go hard all the time, and that's where he gets his sacks."

On that end, though this year may not have followed the script Peach would have written, every snap he sees is a chance to push himself back into the conversation. His CFL career has been blunted by injuries, and he sat out most of this season before the Hamilton Tiger-Cats released him in late August. The Bombers courted Peach immediately, and he signed here eager for a fresh start. He was so upbeat when he met the media that day.

Six weeks later, that optimism has been tempered by the Bombers' slow crash. After each loss, Peach calls his wife in Idaho, where she's finishing her master's degree in social work, and talks it out. They talk about the big picture. She reminds him to keep having fun; these careers only last so long. And Peach has already registered three sacks and six tackles in limited time across five games, so he has a chance to end his own season strong.

"It's tough losing," he said. "You have to remind yourself every practice and every day that you're playing professional football and you're getting paid to do it. It's the best thing that's ever happened to me. How can I complain about losing a football game? It's obviously important, but in the big picture, it's not life or death. There's people who are in way worse situations than we are."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 11, 2013 C4

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