Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–6–0

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Veteran DBs finally starting to get Burke's dire message

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If Tim Burke's motive was to rattle some cages in his secondary, consider the message finally received.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach fired another in a series of shots across the bow of the vets in his air defence after Tuesday morning's practice session. And the afternoon workout -- with full pads on for the first time in training camp -- was considerably more spirited.

"We came out here and showed what we had to do today... all the linemen wanted to fight us, so hopefully he'll see something on film that changes his mind," said Jonathan Hefney. "I feel like we've been doing it the whole time. But at the same time, he sees it, the film sees it... maybe a couple guys weren't running to the ball every single play.

'They aren't running hard enough. They're not getting to the football. They're not intense enough on the field. How is that possible?'

"But as we talked to the (other defensive backs) at the same time we told them, 'Just try to get to the ball and make a play. Give 100 per cent effort on everything you do and coach can't say too much, you know?' "

Earlier Tuesday Burke was asked to comment on the progress of his team and used the opportunity to tear a strip off the vets in the secondary.

"I told the first group of secondary people last night I wasn't happy with their performance and if they don't pick it up, they're going to be gone," said Burke. "I don't know how many times I've got to say it. I guess it's going to take somebody getting cut to get the message across.

"I'm not happy with the first secondary and how they are performing. Everybody else is performing really well."

When pressed if it was assignment or mental mistakes, Burke said: "Effort. How is that possible? They aren't running hard enough. They're not getting to the football. They're not intense enough on the field. How is that possible? Ask them, because I don't have the answer."

The Bomber secondary has already undergone a significant change this off-season with veteran Ian Logan released after the club signed Cauchy Muamba, formerly of the B.C. Lions, in free agency. But clearly Burke is pushing vets like Hefney, Jovon Johnson, Alex Suber and Brandon Stewart to be better.

"I just worry about me," said Hefney. "I'm going to give my 110 per cent and hopefully everybody else does what they have to do, they won't get cut, and our team will be the same."

All this is part of the reality of pro football where any vet -- especially those with new contracts in their back pockets -- are constantly under the microscope.

"That's anywhere," Hefney said with a shrug. "Once you go out and play and you've been performing for years you've got to be under the microscope. Me and J.J. (Johnson) and a couple of other guys who just signed new deals... we've got to lead the team... and make sure everything's good."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 5, 2013 D3

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Updated on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 8:33 AM CDT: adds video

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