February 20, 2019

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Brink amped for starting challenge

QB eager to embrace the big stage Saturday in Calgary

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/11/2011 (2665 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

About a month ago, Blue Bombers quarterback Alex Brink decided to get the jump on the annual post-season tradition of growing a beard, knowing full well that his ability to grow facial hair might not be evident until after the Grey Cup.

"Once we clinched, I had to start growing it then because if I didn't I would never get it in for the playoffs," he laughed through his orange whiskers after practice Thursday.

Playoffs or no playoffs, Brink has had something to play for all season.

The former Washington State star moves from the bathroom mirror to the spotlight Saturday, when he replaces Buck Pierce and tries to coax the Bombers offence to success against the Calgary Stampeders (3 p.m., TSN, CJOB). Everyone is well-versed on the implications for the Winnipeg side -- win and the Bombers grab first place in the East Division, just know that -- so no need in combing through those details.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/11/2011 (2665 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Colleen De Neve / postmedia news
Birthday boy fit to be tied
Calgary Stampeders receiver Johnny Forzani tries to free himself after getting taped to the upright and pied with a shaving cream pie to celebrate his birthday following practice at McMahon Stadium on Thursday. The Stamps were busy preparating for their final regular-season game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday.

POSTMEDIA CALGARY HERALD

Colleen De Neve / postmedia news Birthday boy fit to be tied Calgary Stampeders receiver Johnny Forzani tries to free himself after getting taped to the upright and pied with a shaving cream pie to celebrate his birthday following practice at McMahon Stadium on Thursday. The Stamps were busy preparating for their final regular-season game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday.

About a month ago, Blue Bombers quarterback Alex Brink decided to get the jump on the annual post-season tradition of growing a beard, knowing full well that his ability to grow facial hair might not be evident until after the Grey Cup.

"Once we clinched, I had to start growing it then because if I didn't I would never get it in for the playoffs," he laughed through his orange whiskers after practice Thursday.

Playoffs or no playoffs, Brink has had something to play for all season.

The former Washington State star moves from the bathroom mirror to the spotlight Saturday, when he replaces Buck Pierce and tries to coax the Bombers offence to success against the Calgary Stampeders (3 p.m., TSN, CJOB). Everyone is well-versed on the implications for the Winnipeg side — win and the Bombers grab first place in the East Division, just know that — so no need in combing through those details.

Typically, players often attempt to disguise these moments, these games of consequence, as non-events; dialing back the amount of weight put on one afternoon of football in hopes of finding a comfortable mindset and managing expectations.

Brink is not doing that this week.

The 26-year-old is actually asking for more plates to be thrown on the bar.

"I don't think we need to treat it like any other game. We understand what's on the line."

Brink's season has unfolded like this: He's completed 62.6 per cent of his passes and thrown for 821 yards with four touchdown passes and four interceptions. In his one start, the 32-26 loss to Montreal, he went 25-for-40 for 326 yards and nearly brought the Blue and Gold all the way back from an early deficit. He's backed up Pierce capably throughout the schedule, coming into games the starter couldn't finish while showing flashes of talent the Bombers thought he had when they acquired him off Hamilton's negotiation list before the 2010 season.

More importantly, he's shown growth in his understanding of the Canadian game from his rookie season. He looks more comfortable; he looks more confident; and he seems to have a grasp of just what this moment could mean for him as a young quarterback in a young quarterback-hungry CFL.

That's why it wasn't surprising to hear him embrace the big stage of Saturday.

"Whatever gets those guys focused and ready," said head coach Paul LaPolice, noting how effective Brink is as the short-yardage guy who comes in on second or third down to push the ball through the line of scrimmage for a new set of downs or in some cases, a touchdown.

"We talked a lot this week (about) 'Opportunity knocks' — time to slam the door down and go through it."

"My role as the backup is to be prepared to step in (for) any situation," Brink added. "This happens to be a critical situation. I don't feel like it's any more critical than starting against Montreal. There's no pressure (this week), but there's an awareness to rise up to the challenge."

Brink knows this isn't just a chance to keep the drive moving in the right direction.

No position on the Bombers is more clouded that the quarterback spot heading into the winter. Pierce has enjoyed a fine campaign, yes, but he's seemingly wearing down. Joey Elliott is coming off a serious knee injury. Brink has taken advantage of those openings and landed in the No. 1 spot as things settle into November.

And here's where it gets interesting: all three pivots are free agents after the season.

That contract situation underlines this game for Brink. The prospects — better or otherwise — for a new deal could be built on how he performs Saturday and possibly beyond (should Pierce's sprained knee not be ready in time for playoff action, whenever that is).

Some people feel Brink is ready to start in the CFL. He counts as one of them.

"The opportunities I've already had this year, I feel like I've taken advantage of those," he said. "This is another opportunity. Wherever that leads... those chips will fall in due time."

adam.wazny@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @wazoowazny

Logan's status uncertain

Ian Logan's availability for Calgary won't be known until this morning — the Canadian safety has been battling an "undisclosed" illness, the team says. If he can't go, the club would move Jovon Johnson or Jonathan Hefney into safety and put Deon Beasley in as a starting defensive back.

Shuffling the deck

With the one-game suspension to Johnny Sears, rookie Darrell Pasco comes off the practice roster... Receiver Greg Carr has been limited at practice all week. If Carr can't go, look for Terence Jeffers-Harris to make the trip to Calgary. Jeffers-Harris hasn't played since Aug. 13.

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