December 16, 2018

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Record: 10–8–0

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Blue Bomber Report (10–8–0)

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Bighill enjoying success against former team

<p>Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Adam Bighill during practice at Investors Group Field Thursday morning. Bighill had a great game against his former team which adds intrigue to this week’s rematch between the two clubs in Vancouver.</p></p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Adam Bighill during practice at Investors Group Field Thursday morning. Bighill had a great game against his former team which adds intrigue to this week’s rematch between the two clubs in Vancouver.

Adam Bighill’s colossal Week 4 outing against his former team has added even more intrigue to this week’s return engagement in Vancouver.

Winnipeg’s middle linebacker dismantled the B.C. Lions with a team-leading six tackles while also snatching a pair of interceptions (including a 55-yard return on a pick-six) in the Blue Bombers’ 41-19 victory at Investors Group Field. He relished beating his former teammates, and he’s eager to claim the season series with another win at BC Place on Saturday night.

“I think it was a little sweeter to have it happen against your old team,” said Bighill, who has an off-season home in the Vancouver area. “It made it a lot more fun, for sure. We’re all looking to see who can get the better of who, just with how well we know each other. It was good to have bragging rights for the week.”

DIFFERENT LOOK FROM LEOS?

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Adam Bighill’s colossal Week 4 outing against his former team has added even more intrigue to this week’s return engagement in Vancouver.

Winnipeg’s middle linebacker dismantled the B.C. Lions with a team-leading six tackles while also snatching a pair of interceptions (including a 55-yard return on a pick-six) in the Blue Bombers’ 41-19 victory at Investors Group Field. He relished beating his former teammates, and he’s eager to claim the season series with another win at BC Place on Saturday night.

"I think it was a little sweeter to have it happen against your old team," said Bighill, who has an off-season home in the Vancouver area. "It made it a lot more fun, for sure. We’re all looking to see who can get the better of who, just with how well we know each other. It was good to have bragging rights for the week."

DIFFERENT LOOK FROM LEOS?

Winnipeg running back Andrew Harris, another former member of the Lions, expects a different approach from the B.C. defence.

"On film, we watched them the week before — they did a lot of pressuring, and I mean they didn’t really pressure us (in Week 4) that much, so I’m thinking, home-field advantage for them, they want to get their crowd into it and I assume that’s what they’re gonna do," said Harris, who rambled for 101 of his 109 rushing yards in the first half. "That’s what they did the last couple of years against us...

"I’m expecting a more physical game from them for sure."

HECHT FITS RIGHT IN

Newly acquired backup safety and special-teamer Jeff Hecht was added to Winnipeg’s practice roster Wednesday, and he’s expected to be added to the active roster in time for Saturday’s game.

Former Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back Jeff Hecht was waiting by the phone when Bombers GM Kyle Walters came calling.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/MARK BLINCH

Former Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back Jeff Hecht was waiting by the phone when Bombers GM Kyle Walters came calling.

Hecht, 32, was released just prior to training camp by the Saskatchewan Roughriders and had been waiting patiently at home in Edmonton for an opportunity to come up. A long-term injury to Derek Jones meant Bombers general manager Kyle Walters would come calling.

"There’s a certain transition you make, mentally, to prepare yourself for a training camp, especially an eighth one," Hecht said. "You really need to commit to playing football again, because if you don’t, you might as well not. It’s, do you want to put your body through the test? Once you make that choice and commitment, I was waiting for the opportunity when it came, not if it came. Because people get hurt, and me not being on a team, I felt like I was the first guy up for a lot of teams."

Hecht consulted with current Bombers players Chris Randle and Stanley Bryant, former teammates from his days in Calgary, and ex-Roughriders teammates Kienan LaFrance and Nic Demski for a scouting report on the organization.

"One of the things a lot of the guys said was the people around them genuinely care," Hecht said. "They genuinely want them to succeed, whereas in football it can be a very cutthroat industry. For you to do well, it means someone else has to do not so well. The atmosphere can be negative towards hostility in the locker room.

"There’s a lot of guys here early in the morning because it’s a very positive atmosphere. They love being here early and love staying late."

WALKING WOUNDED

Linebacker Chandler Fenner did not practise Thursday, and has been sidelined all week. Still, Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea refused to rule him out for Saturday’s game.

"Some guys don’t need to practise," O’Shea said. "I guess it’s based on the individual, but with veteran guys, they can usually figure it out. They’re in meetings, they attend all the meetings, and he’s a pro, so we’ll make that decision closer to when we have to set our roster."

The absence of Fenner would mean Maurice Leggett’s likely return to that spot. Leggett has played at halfback since returning to the lineup in Week 2. He said it’s been a bit of an adjustment moving from a spot where you’re seemingly involved in every play to a halfback position that involves a higher level of patience.

"It’s like baseball there. Like you never know when a player is coming your way, for your chance to make an impact play," he said. "For us guys, we always want to make plays. But every play is not my play to make, and younger guys have to understand that as well. If I try and do too much, I still need to be a bit more patient because I’m still that guy that wants to make every play, but I know I don’t have to, and that’s a comforting feeling for myself."

Meanwhile, backup linebacker Shayne Gauthier (lower body) is expected to miss two weeks. He leads the CFL with nine special-teams tackles while Fenner is tied for second spot with seven.

ROGERS PASSES AWAY

<p>Former Bombers coach Darryl Rogers in 1987 file photo.</p>

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES

Former Bombers coach Darryl Rogers in 1987 file photo.

Darryl Rogers, who served as head coach of the Blue Bombers in 1991, died Tuesday in Fresno, Calif.

Rogers, 83, was hired by then-Bombers GM Cal Murphy and guided the team to a 9-9 record and an appearance in the East Division final in his lone year in the CFL. After that season, Rogers was relieved of his duties and replaced by Murphy as coach until Murphy’s emergency heart bypass surgery and subsequent heart transplant meant Urban Bowman was hired for the job. 

Rogers spent most of his coaching career in the U.S. college ranks, but also served as head coach of the NFL’s Detroit Lions from 1985 to ’88.

<p>Blue Bombers DB Chris Randle has heard the criticism of his defence.</p>

ANDREW RYAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Blue Bombers DB Chris Randle has heard the criticism of his defence.

RANDLE DEFENDS D

Defensive back Chris Randle admitted he’s heard some of the criticism his defence has faced this season, but is adamant good things are to come.

"I always want to do well. My intention every day is to be great," he said. "You can say we’re up and down, but at the same time, I understand our situation, I know what goes on in the locker room and I know what goes on out on the field. Knowing that, I know what we have, and it’s easy to stay even-keeled at this point. But every single game, even the ones we don’t do well, we wanted to be great."

With three interceptions by the defence last week, Randle was asked if he felt it was the start of many more to come — a return to the ball-hawking identity for the Bombers’ D.

"Man, I would hope so," he said. "That’s what we strive for every single day, and hopefully that’s the one that gets us going."

jeff.hamilton@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @jeffkhamilton

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Sports Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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Jeff Hamilton

Jeff Hamilton
Multimedia producer

After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.

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