Pierce makes quite an impression

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:16 PM ET

They say you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Buck Pierce grabbed his chance and used it to slap around a bunch of pretenders dressed up as Montreal Alouettes.

Let’s get that out of the way up front: these were not the defending Grey Cup champs who showed up for a preseason tilt against the Blue Bombers at Wrecking Ball Stadium, Sunday.

CFL coach of the year Marc Trestman used the occasion to show a bunch of rookies and backups what Winnipeg is like just before the mosquitos come out in earnest, and the result was all Bombers, 34-10.

Instead of star running back Avon Cobourne, for instance, the Als brought his brother, Patrick.

Quarterback Anthony Calvillo didn’t even make the trip, either, so there’s obviously still no competition at that spot in Montreal.

Different story here — at least it was until Sunday.

If Pierce, the erstwhile B.C. Lions pivot, doesn’t have the starting job in his hip pocket now, he’s at least got it neatly rolled up, ready to stuff in.

The numbers don’t count, of course, but all Pierce did the first time he walked onto the field was lead the offence on a multidimensional, time-consuming, 104-yard touchdown drive, against the breeze.

Next time out, six plays, 75 yards and a touchdown toss to Brock Ralph. Out of the shotgun and a five-receiver set, no less (Professor Kelly, we hardly knew ya).

“You forget how much fun it is to go out there and play again,” Pierce said.

When No. 4 wasn’t delivering the ball on the money, he was scrambling for first downs. And in case anybody wondered if he’d be shy about that, considering his history with the medics, wonder no more.

Pierce played as if the quarterback slide hadn’t been invented, fighting for every yard he could get — just like he did in B.C.

If Bomber boss Paul LaPolice had any hair left, he’d no doubt be losing it this season, worrying about his QB staying upright.

“I’m sure a lot of people, especially in Winnipeg right now, are kind of holding their breath when I run a little bit,” Pierce said. “But that is my style. I’m not going to take a hellacious hit. But it’s good for me, gives confidence to me that I can get out there and still run.”

If I were Coach LaPo, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

He has faith in two quarterbacks, after all. Remember, he was planning to hand the reins to Steven Jyles before Bomber brass reconsidered an earlier decision not to go after Pierce.

As for Jyles, he was game enough, but didn’t show enough game, if you know what I mean.

Perhaps feeling the pressure of following up Pierce’s magnificent debut, the former Rider missed more than he hit, including a couple of wide open targets.

He did match Pierce’s work with the legs, but No. 3’s arm looked like a No. 2, and that doesn’t mean he’ll waste away on the bench for 18 games.

Pierce has yet to play a complete CFL season, after all.

So if Coach LaPo is looking for any help, we’re happy to offer it, along with the 28,000 or so others who spent the first nice day in a week watching his creation.

Never mind the second preseason game. You can already draw up the plan for when the games mean something.

It’s Pierce, the veteran, at the controls to start, with Jyles waiting in the wings in case something bad happens or the offence needs a change of pace.

Besides, coach, you’ve got plenty of other things to worry about it, decisions to make.

This one became as clear as the sky on Sunday.

And it was every bit as nice to see.

paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca


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