Matt Nichols probably isn’t going to break any throwing records this season, but as long as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers continue to win, that’s fine by him.
Nichols didn’t exactly light up the stat sheet in Friday’s 29-23 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, completing 13 of 24 passes for 180 yards, two touchdowns and zero turnovers. The veteran quarterback now has 1,053 passing yards to go along with seven touchdowns and four interceptions in five games this season. Nichols impressed last year with 4,472 passing yards, 28 touchdown passes and just eight interceptions, but said numbers don’t mean much to him and they don’t tell the full story of how a quarterback is playing.
"There were more than a few times last year where I was throwing 40 (times), mid 40s, in a game and I don’t think I’ve thrown over 30 times yet this season," Nichols said after Monday’s practice at Investors Group Field. "It’s a balanced attack — we have a lot of different ways that we can get the ball in the end zone. Our defence has provided us short fields. When you have all those things, who cares if you’re not throwing for whatever. Everyone loves the 300-yard mark for whatever reason that is, I have no idea why. Sometimes I even think about why that’s even the thing you think about. We’re winning football games, and if you gave me the choice between 350 or 400 yards and a loss and 180 yards and a win, I think you know which one I’ll choose."
DRESSLER INJURY UPDATE: Wide receiver Weston Dressler didn’t participate in Monday’s practice due to a lower-body injury he suffered in Friday’s game.
Head coach Mike O’Shea said it’s yet to be determined if Dressler will play Friday at home against the Ottawa Redblacks.
"He’s not the type of guy that needs to practise in order to be able to play," O’Shea said. "We’ll reassess on a daily basis and we’ll see where we go from here."
If Dressler does miss time, Ryan Lankford could be the beneficiary, as he was taking first-team reps Monday. Lankford, who had 20 catches for 260 yards and three touchdowns last season, only dressed in Week 1 this year and didn’t record a catch. Lankford said watching from the sidelines hasn’t been easy, but he’s ready to go if the team needs him.
"I want to play. I’ll return kicks, I’ll do whatever is asked of me," said Lankford, a four-year CFL veteran.
"That’s really what I got to get back to mentally, personally thinking, doing my job. Doing whatever is asked, each play, one play at a time, and let chips fall where they may."
Nichols was asked if he had confidence in Lankford potentially filling in for Dressler and he gave his receiver a vote of confidence.
"Weston Dressler is a future hall of famer, so it’s always hard to replace a guy like that. But I do feel like we have guys that can make plays for us, and especially Ryan is a guy I have a lot of faith in. I think we’ve had some good games together these last couple years," Nichols said.
DEMSKI CELEBRATION REDEMPTION: Winnipeg native Nic Demski is no stranger to scoring touchdowns at Investors Group Field.
A week after scoring two majors in a win over the Toronto Argonauts, Demski found the end zone again Friday. Nichols connected with Demski on a 34-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to increase the lead to 26-10. After hitting paydirt, Demski ran over to the University of Manitoba logo painted in the end zone, got down on his knees and pretended to flip the pages of the book that is featured at the bottom of the school’s crest. Demski said it isn’t the first time he’s done the celebration, as he did it in a game in 2014 as a member of the Bisons, but this time, he did it right.
"I flipped the pages, except I flipped the pages the wrong way, so I had to come out here and redeem myself, so that’s what that was about," Demski said on the story behind his celebration.
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.