October 16, 2017

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Nichols back at the controls at Bombers' practice

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Winnipeg Blue Bombers starting quarterback Matt Nichols at practice at Investors Group Field Tuesday morning.</p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Blue Bombers starting quarterback Matt Nichols at practice at Investors Group Field Tuesday morning.

Quarterback Matt Nichols was wearing a glove on his throwing hand but that was the only sign the Winnipeg quarterback was dealing with an injury on the practice field Tuesday morning.

Nichols, who absorbed big hits from Hamilton defenders Adrian Tracy and Justin Capicciotti on separate plays in the first half of the Blue Bombers' 30-13 loss to the visiting Ticats Friday night, did not play in the second half. He was replaced by backup Dominique Davis.

On Tuesday, Nichols was taking first-team reps, zipping the football around with plenty of velocity and distance as the Blue Bombers got back to work at Investors Group Field.

Nichols, Davis and No. 3 QB Dan LeFevour were not made available for comment afterward but it seems reasonable to assume Nichols will be the starter when the Bombers host the B.C. Lions Saturday at 3 p.m.

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Quarterback Matt Nichols was wearing a glove on his throwing hand but that was the only sign the Winnipeg quarterback was dealing with an injury on the practice field Tuesday morning.

Nichols, who absorbed big hits from Hamilton defenders Adrian Tracy and Justin Capicciotti on separate plays in the first half of the Blue Bombers' 30-13 loss to the visiting Ticats Friday night, did not play in the second half. He was replaced by backup Dominique Davis.

On Tuesday, Nichols was taking first-team reps, zipping the football around with plenty of velocity and distance as the Blue Bombers got back to work at Investors Group Field.

Nichols, Davis and No. 3 QB Dan LeFevour were not made available for comment afterward but it seems reasonable to assume Nichols will be the starter when the Bombers host the B.C. Lions Saturday at 3 p.m.

Teammates had favourable reviews.

"He looked good, he looked really good," said defensive back T.J. Heath. "That's what I take from it but you never know. He was making some good throws, I had to ask him, 'How you feeling? You look like you feel pretty good.'"

Tailback Andrew Harris didn't see any limitations for Nichols, whose right-hand glove had the thumb, index and middle fingers exposed. The team hasn't offered details on the injury but it is believed to be a damaged ring finger, which was bloodied Friday night.

"I mean, you guys saw him today, he was throwing it pretty well," said Harris. "And it seems like he hasn't missed a beat, so he looks great... no doubt at all. Matt's a competitor, he's a tough guy, he's been through a lot worse in terms of adversity and injuries throughout his career and he's overcome those things."

Head coach Mike O'Shea was asked if the blood was the result of a fingernail being torn off. "I don't think so," he said, adding he will check on Nichols' condition again Wednesday.

Quarterbacks coach Buck Pierce, no stranger to playing hurt during his nine-year CFL career, wasn't surprised by Nichols' speedy turnaround.

"Matt looks fine," Pierce said. "Matt's played the game long enough to understand those kinds of things happen. It's really about being mentally tough and going out there and playing... you're never 100 per cent. Just because your name isn't on the injury board, doesn't mean (you're) not nicked up. Everyone's playing with a little something this time of the year. But Matt's a tough guy."

Nichols completed 14 of 18 passes for 158 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Davis, making his second appearance of the 2017 regular season, completed nine of 14 passes for 84 yards and no touchdowns.

The Blue Bombers expect Davis to be ready to play if Nichols isn't available.

"Nothing changes. We have a method where everybody takes reps in practice and everybody gets the same game plan," Pierce said. "We expect those guys to prepare like they're playing every snap of the game. Throughout the course of the game, they have to be as locked in as the guy out there pulling the trigger. That's something we talk about all the time — your opportunities as a backup in the world we live in, might be the first play of the game or the 70th play of the game. He's got to be able to — as any backup does — prepare himself mentally throughout the week and make the most of his reps."

Davis's underwhelming performance against the Ticats didn't faze offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice.

"I talked to Dom after the game," LaPolice said. "I want him to get through his progressions faster. He had a couple of drops on his watch and ultimately he's got to find ways to lead us down to score.... There's a reason he's No. 2. He performed well all through training camp and had great practices and everything. So, he'll play better. He hasn't played a lot of football (this year)."

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @sawa14

Read more by Mike Sawatzky.

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History

Updated on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at 4:39 PM CDT: Update

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