Blue Bomber Report Record: 5–3–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pierce's injury still murky

Foot problem 'could be' a long-term issue: LaPolice

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The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were still awaiting further diagnosis of starting quarterback Buck Pierce's injured left foot on Sunday, but had not ruled out the possibility Pierce's injury "could be" long-term, said head coach Paul LaPolice.

Pierce injured the foot in the first quarter of Friday's 42-10 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos and LaPolice said Sunday afternoon the team still did not have a definitive prognosis on how long Pierce will be out.

"He'll be out this week and we'll have better information the next day or so how long," LaPolice said following a light team practice at Canad Inns Stadium in preparation for this Wednesday's game in Toronto against the Argonauts.

Asked specifically if he was concerned Pierce's injury could keep him out a long time, LaPolice replied: "Could be. But not concerned -- if it is, we'll adjust and go from there. But we'll see how it goes (Monday)."

LaPolice added later in his media availability he's still hopeful of a relatively quick return for Pierce. "To me," ventured LaPolice, "I think it's more of a week-to-week thing."

Medical staff's initial concern when Pierce left the game Friday night was that he had broken a bone or bones in his left foot when he was sacked by Eskimos lineman Ted Laurent. If that proves to be the case, the recovery times range widely for broken bones in a foot, from a low of about four weeks all the way to the 17 weeks it took soccer player Michael Owen to return to action when he broke the fifth metatarsal bone in his foot in 2006.

Pierce did not attend Sunday's practice session, but he was using a walking boot and a crutch when he was still in Edmonton.

The team did not make Pierce available to the media on Sunday, but it's expected he will meet with the media today.

In Pierce's absence, backup Alex Brink took all the first-team reps in practice and LaPolice confirmed afterwards that Brink will get the start against the Argonauts. LaPolice said Brink has shown no lasting effects from a devastating hit he took Friday night, which also knocked him out of the Eskimos game and left third-stringer Joey Elliott to mop up.

"I feel good," said Brink. "I'm excited for the opportunity, as always. Obviously this is an important game for us. They all are, but at this juncture in the year, we need to take advantage."

The Bombers fell to 0-3 with the loss to Edmonton Friday night and are now the only team still winless in the CFL this season.

Pierce has a long history of not finishing games due to injury and has now failed to do so in two of his team's three games this season. Against that backdrop, LaPolice was asked Sunday if Pierce continues to have his full confidence as the team's starting pivot.

"The biggest thing," replied LaPolice, "is who gives you the best chance to win."

Asked if he still thinks that's Pierce, LaPolice replied, "Yeah, that's the information we have so far. The other guys, if they get opportunities to play, they get opportunities to teach you otherwise."

LaPolice has suggested before that no player should lose his starting job just because he's been injured, but seemed to hedge when he was asked if Pierce would automatically reclaim his starting job when he's healthy, regardless of how well Brink or Elliott play in his absence.

"You guys tell me," LaPolice said. "When (starting defensive tackle) Dorion Smith was injured last year, Bryant Turner took over (Smith's starting job, even after he returned). So, I mean, I don't know. There's so many factors that go into that, but certainly that's not a steadfast rule...

"We're hoping Buck gets healthy -- and healthy as soon as possible. And we'll see how he is."

It was pointed out to LaPolice that the TSN football panel -- which includes former Bombers Milt Stegall and Matt Dunigan, as well as Chris Schultz -- seemed in agreement after Friday's game the Bombers need to move on without Pierce as their starter.

"If I can help you," LaPolice interrupted his questioner, "let's not always listen to those guys."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 16, 2012 C3

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