They say one should never back a bear into a corner. In that respect, it will be interesting to see how veteran offensive linemen Obby Khan and Kelly Bates respond to attacks from their head coach this week.

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Winnipeg Blue Bombers Kelly Bates at practice Wednesday at Canad Inns Stadium.

JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

Winnipeg Blue Bombers Kelly Bates at practice Wednesday at Canad Inns Stadium.

They say one should never back a bear into a corner. In that respect, it will be interesting to see how veteran offensive linemen Obby Khan and Kelly Bates respond to attacks from their head coach this week.

Mike Kelly has taken measured shots at any number of his offensive players this past week but centre Khan and guard Bates have been singled out for their play along the offensive line.

"This is a business where if you don't produce, you're gone," said Kelly, after suggesting both Khan and Bates needed to improve their play. "And so some people have to start producing. That's just the way it is. We have to be production-oriented and we're just not right now."

Ryan Donnelly has taken some snaps at both guard and centre this week and Kelly has said fans can expect to see Donnelly in game action on Saturday.

For Bates and Khan, the solution to Kelly's criticism and the push being presented by Donnelly is simple.

"We're paid professional athletes and if we can't take criticism, we shouldn't be in the sport.

Offensive linemen Kelly Bates and Obby Khan have been called out by head coach Mike Kelly, who says the pair have to start producing if they want to stay employed by the Bombers.

PHOTOS BY JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

Offensive linemen Kelly Bates and Obby Khan have been called out by head coach Mike Kelly, who says the pair have to start producing if they want to stay employed by the Bombers.

"We get paid to play and if the coach doesn't think I'm playing up to my ability, he should call me out," said Khan. "It's up to me to light a fire under my ass and pick it up and hopefully play better."

Khan says after the initial sting of a coach's public critique wears off there can be positive results.

"Of course you're upset because you never want to be called out," said Khan. "But I've had a really good week of practice and I'm going out there with a little bit more of an edge. The coach is watching me, I better pick it up."

While Kelly's comments hit the papers and the radio waves, Khan says the first assault always comes from offensive line coach Charlie Carpenter.

"We do our film breakdown and coach Carpenter will talk to us about technique and knowing your assignments," said Khan. "As far as he's concerned, he's a get-the-job-done kind of guy. No matter how. That's what it comes down to with the big guys.

"Our bread and butter is getting in there and kicking the crap out of people and moving people off the ball. If we're not doing that, well, you don't want to be in those meeting rooms with coach Carpenter. Let's just leave it at that."

Carpenter is a veteran of 10 CFL seasons and has won a pair of Grey Cups as an offensive line coach.

"(Khan and Bates) have to be professionals, stand up and do their jobs," said Carpenter.

"I think they'll step up and meet the challenge and have strong games this week."

Bates, who came to the Bombers this off-season after a seven-year run with the B.C. Lions that included a Grey Cup win, says he long ago learned to worry about what he can control and to block the rest out.

"You try not to let the distractions get to you and focus on what you have to do and go out and execute what you've been trained to do on the field," said Bates. "I can't control what other people do. I can only control my effort and my performance. That's what I'm worrying about this week."

Kelly says the improvement of Donnelly gives his offence some options along the line.

"Ryan has practised and played well enough that he deserves some playing time," said Kelly.

"It can give some of those other guys a break. (Khan and Bates) are focused competitors and they've both had great success in this league. Hopefully this stimulus package is working and we can get a little something going up there."

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca