A fun kind of nerve damage

Bombers DB Ford on edge of seat watching brother start at QB for Edmonton

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Long weekends are supposed to be relaxing, but Blue Bombers rookie Tyrell Ford spent Canada Day at home anxiously cheering on his brother, Tre.

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Long weekends are supposed to be relaxing, but Blue Bombers rookie Tyrell Ford spent Canada Day at home anxiously cheering on his brother, Tre.

Tre Ford led the Edmonton Elks to their first win of the season Friday, going 15 of 26 for 159 passing yards, one touchdown and an interception. It was a night of firsts for Ford, who became the only Black-Canadian to start for the team and its first Canadian starter since 1968.

Ford also became the first quarterback out of U Sports to start and win a Canadian Football League (CFL) regular season game since Greg Vavra in 1985.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive back Tyrell Ford spent Friday night in front of the TV, watching brother Tre start at quarterback for the Edmonton Elks. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files)

“I felt like I played the game, I was pretty nervous,” said Tyrell. “At some points, it was kind of frustrating because I know he missed some throws that he normally would make. But I mean, overall, they got the win and that’s what matters.”

The Bombers defensive back said he watched the game at home and his entire family was in the stands for Tre’s first career start. He couldn’t contain his smile while talking about the phone calls he shared with his dad and brother after Friday’s game.

Tyrell, who has goals of being a starting cornerback, said he and his brother are in a spot where their roles are seen as American positions, but both are fighting through that to establish themselves.

Tre Ford threw for 159 yards and a touchdown in his CFL starting debut Friday night. (Peter Power / The Canadian Press files)

“For me, honestly it’s not too big of a surprise, I knew once… he had a shot he’d be successful,” said Tyrell. “He’s just a really good competitor. I think from here it’s only up, he’s gonna get a little bit more comfortable in the system and obviously get a little bit more game experience.”

“So, I think it’s his time,” he added.

Canadian quarterbacks are the talk of the CFL these days thanks to B.C. Lions starter Nathan Rourke leading the team to a 3-0 start and Ford’s performance Friday. It’s been a long time coming for a league that prior to July 1, hadn’t seen two Canadian quarterbacks start in the same week since 1982.

However, what makes the play of Ford and Rourke so noteworthy isn’t just that they’re starting, but also winning football games.

“I think Rourke and Tre Ford are very positive for the young football players in Canada,” said Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea.

Blue looking for win in Toronto

The Blue Bombers haven’t won in Toronto since a 38-20 victory against the Argonauts in Week 6 of the 2018 season.

The team’s struggles on the road against the Argos is something they’re embracing ahead of a trip to BMO Field this week.

“We definitely do pay attention to that,” said receiver Rasheed Bailey. “That’s something that me as one of the leaders on the team and in the receiver room, that was one of the biggest things that I brought up at the beginning of the week.”

Bailey had two touchdowns and 86 yards in two games against Toronto last season. However, he’s still looking for his first touchdown of the season and Monday’s game in Toronto could be just what he needs.

The 28-year-old said the best is yet to come for a Winnipeg offence that’s improving every week.

“I feel like we’re getting tighter and getting close and big plays are gonna be starting to get made,” he said. “We’re just getting comfortable. Last game, we’re just a couple inches away and I feel like each week we just getting better.”

No rest for the wicked

It’s a quick turnaround for Winnipeg who plays Toronto Monday and the undefeated B.C. Lions Saturday.

Blue Bombers defensive lineman Willie Jefferson said the team worked hard this week and tried not to put too much strain on their bodies so they could perform well in Toronto and do it all over again in Vancouver.

While a shot at shutting down a Lions team that has scored 134 points in three games could make any defensive player salivate, Jefferson made it clear there’s business to handle in Toronto first.

“We want to focus on Toronto, focus on this week and focus on getting the win on the road, in a spot that we haven’t won in in a couple of years,” said Jefferson.

Gavin.Axelrod@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: Gavin77axe

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