October 17, 2017

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Nichols feels 'great,' prepares for Lions

Matt Nichols put to rest the rumours surrounding his health Wednesday, confirming he’s ready to go for Saturday’s home game against the B.C. Lions.

“Obviously, with anybody there’s always setbacks and things that can happen during a week,” Nichols said following practice at Investors Group Field, “but I felt great these past couple days throwing the football around and I fully expect to be playing.”

The status of the Bombers’ starting quarterback was in question after a pair of heavy hits from Hamilton defenders Adrian Tracy and Justin Capicciotti appeared to injure his throwing hand, forcing him to leave after the first half of the club’s 30-13 loss to the visiting Tiger-Cats Friday night.

Nichols, who finished the game 14-of-18 pasing for 154 yards, one touchdown and one interception, tempered most of the concerns when he returned to practice Tuesday, working out with the first-team offence and throwing a number of deep balls on target while wearing a modified glove on his throwing hand.

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Matt Nichols put to rest the rumours surrounding his health Wednesday, confirming he’s ready to go for Saturday’s home game against the B.C. Lions.

"Obviously, with anybody there’s always setbacks and things that can happen during a week," Nichols said following practice at Investors Group Field, "but I felt great these past couple days throwing the football around and I fully expect to be playing."

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Matt Nichols</p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Matt Nichols

The status of the Bombers’ starting quarterback was in question after a pair of heavy hits from Hamilton defenders Adrian Tracy and Justin Capicciotti appeared to injure his throwing hand, forcing him to leave after the first half of the club’s 30-13 loss to the visiting Tiger-Cats Friday night.

Nichols, who finished the game 14-of-18 pasing for 154 yards, one touchdown and one interception, tempered most of the concerns when he returned to practice Tuesday, working out with the first-team offence and throwing a number of deep balls on target while wearing a modified glove on his throwing hand.

Even though head coach Mike O’Shea and offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice both said they liked what they saw during the workout, a cloud of doubt remained since Nichols had yet to address the injury and the team did not make him available to reporters Tuesday.

Wednesday’s workout once again went well, said Nichols, who added he wouldn’t be out there if he wasn’t confident he could play.

"It’s one of those things where, if I didn’t feel like I could do my job I wouldn’t be out here doing it," he said. "I wouldn’t be taking reps away from other guys... I feel good and have had a few good days of practice. I feel I’m throwing the ball well out here and obviously making sure we’re ready for a big game this week."

Nichols said he has never worn a glove on his throwing hand during a game, although he did practise with one during the off-season. He prefers not to wear one but needs it to protect what’s believed to be an injured ring finger. To feel more natural, the team trainers altered the glove by cutting out the areas covering the thumb, index and middle fingers.

"It’s just not something I’m extremely comfortable with going into a game," he said. "I’ve always felt like I’ve thrown well enough in the cold and everything without a glove, so I’d like to continue to do that and this is going to be my kind of version of it."

"You throw a certain way your entire life and to have something just a little bit different on your throwing hand… obviously it’s something you’ve got to try to adjust to and deal with."

In the event Nichols is unable to go, the Bombers will turn to backup Dominique Davis as his replacement. Davis played the entire second half against the Ticats, putting forth an uninspiring performance in which he completed nine passes for 84 yards and no touchdowns.

LaPolice said earlier this week that Davis was too slow reading some of his progressions but felt he would improve with more meaningful playing time. Davis agreed with his coach’s assessment, noting perhaps he was a bit too anxious in trying to prove himself right away.

"It’s just one of those things where you get in and want to make something happen," Davis said. "You can’t score a touchdown every play, so you just got to keep going and continue to get first downs."

The Bombers are committed to Davis, with O’Shea and LaPolice confirming once again this week Davis is the undisputed No. 2. Davis seemed to appreciate the vote of confidence but understands he’s got to continue to prove himself, much like he’s been doing since he arrived in Winnipeg for the 2015 season.

"I’ve been here for three years now and every off-season I go in trying to get better as a player," he said. "I felt like this past off-season it really showed. I came in to be the backup and I tried to make sure I earned the trust from the coaches and the players. I try to do my best when I get in there to gain the trust of the fans as well."

O’Shea was asked why he felt it worthy to commit to Davis as his undisputed No. 2, despite his lack of experience at the CFL level. Davis has just one start and 126 total passing yards, with no touchdowns. No. 3 QB Dan LeFevour is in his seventh CFL season.

"What we’ve learned through training camp, what we’ve learned through the past couple of years with him, how he’s grown, his time in the meeting room and his interaction... with his teammates," O’Shea said. "All that stuff adds up to him being the guy."

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

Read more by Jeff Hamilton.

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History

Updated on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at 8:16 PM CDT: Full write through

October 12, 2017 at 7:41 AM: Edited

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