December 17, 2018

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Record: 10–8–0

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Blue Bomber Report (10–8–0)

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Bombers prepare for trench warfare

John Woods / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES</p><p>Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Chris Streveler goes up and over the line of scrimmage for a touchdown against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Banjo Bowl in September.</p>

John Woods / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Chris Streveler goes up and over the line of scrimmage for a touchdown against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Banjo Bowl in September.

It’s often said in the CFL that games are won and lost in the trenches. As far as battles go on the line of scrimmage, none are more intriguing than the matchup that’s to be showcased between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday afternoon at Investors Group Field.

Stanley Bryant, the Bombers left tackle and the 2017 most outstanding lineman, will get a healthy dose of defensive end Charleston Hughes, who leads the league with 15 sacks. What makes the one-on-one battle even more attractive is the two were once teammates with the Calgary Stampeders, meaning there will be a strong level of familiarity between them.

“We were always good teammates. He’s one of those guys that’s always going to talk trash,” Bryant said following Thursday’s closed practice. “It’s always a great matchup, because I know what he likes to do and he knows my weaknesses and I know his weaknesses.”

Bryant and Hughes played together for five seasons in Calgary. Bryant hit free agency ahead of the 2015 campaign and signed with the Bombers.

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It’s often said in the CFL that games are won and lost in the trenches. As far as battles go on the line of scrimmage, none are more intriguing than the matchup that’s to be showcased between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday afternoon at Investors Group Field.

Stanley Bryant, the Bombers left tackle and the 2017 most outstanding lineman, will get a healthy dose of defensive end Charleston Hughes, who leads the league with 15 sacks. What makes the one-on-one battle even more attractive is the two were once teammates with the Calgary Stampeders, meaning there will be a strong level of familiarity between them.

"We were always good teammates. He’s one of those guys that’s always going to talk trash," Bryant said following Thursday’s closed practice. "It’s always a great matchup, because I know what he likes to do and he knows my weaknesses and I know his weaknesses."

Bryant and Hughes played together for five seasons in Calgary. Bryant hit free agency ahead of the 2015 campaign and signed with the Bombers.

As for Hughes, he continued to dominate with Calgary for years after Bryant left, only for a trade to happen this past off-season that first landed him with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who then flipped him to the Roughriders. At 34, Hughes is proving he’s getting better with age.

"Charleston, he’s a great competitor. He’s one of those guys that you’ve got to stick on for all 60 minutes. He plays the run well, he plays the pass well," Bryant said. "His age, he’s older, but he’s still playing well, like he’s 23 or 24."

When Bryant isn’t playing against his former teammate, he’ll be up against another tall task in defensive end Willie Jefferson, who has been arguably better than Hughes this year. He has nine sacks, but has also returned two interceptions for touchdowns.

"No. 7, Willie, he’s tall and athletic, one of those guys that (Roughriders head coach) Chris Jones loves to have. He just does a great job of getting to the quarterback and making plays when he’s not getting to the quarterback. It’ll be a good challenge," Bryant said.

It’s a battle that even Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea is looking forward to, noting the Bombers other guard on the right side, Jermarcus Hardrick, will also be up to the challenge.

"It will be fun to watch. To put it into a neat and tidy sentence, I don’t know if you can," O’Shea said. "I think all four players are very, very good players that when they’re at the top of their game those matchups will be very tough battles. Because they’re all so skilled and experienced and passionate about the game, they bring a lot, all four guys, bring a lot to the field every time they step on it."

● ● ●

Weston Dressler, who pulled up lame during Wednesday’s practice, wasn’t made available to media Thursday, meaning he wasn’t a full participant.

The decision on whether the veteran Bombers receiver will play Saturday will be made after today’s walk-through, and the belief is he will play, even though O’Shea didn’t reveal much about the lower-body injury.

"Yeah, he looks good," O’Shea said. "Just because he didn’t practise doesn’t mean he doesn’t look good. Until he tells me he can’t (play), I’m going to believe that he can."

Dressler missed a four-game stretch this season, all of which resulted in losses for the Bombers.

jeff.hamilton@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @jeffkhamilton

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.

Read full biography

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