Beaten up Bombers

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

It's rather remarkable how teams can change in a short time period.

Just 17 days ago the Winnipeg Blue Bombers handed the Edmonton Eskimos their worst loss in seven years by pounding them 46-10 at Canad Inns Stadium.

But life is much different today in both cities.

Thanks to the CFL schedule-maker and the Montreal Alouettes, the well-rested Eskimos will suddenly play a tired and battered version of the Bombers on Thursday at Commonwealth Stadium.

In fact, the two clubs are now at opposite ends of the scale at the moment.

The Eskimos are feeling more confident after beating the B.C. Lions, are relatively healthy and have fresh legs thanks to a bye last week, which gives them 12 days between games.

On the other end, the Bombers were hammered on the scoreboard and on the field by the Als on Saturday, losing three offensive linemen - and only have three days to prepare before flying to Edmonton.

"We are well rested and we have to put it on the line," said veteran safety Kelly Wiltshire.

While the Bombers might be able to patch together some of their O-line by Thursday, they will definitely be without starters Matt Sheridan and Dan Goodspeed.

They also have a dinged-up quarterback in Kevin Glenn, an injured backup in Mike Quinn and played last weekend without key defensive tackle Ron Warner.

But Wiltshire knows that wounded teams can be dangerous and is already warning his teammates to be ready.

"Some teams play better when they are wounded and have lost a big game," he explained.

"They have got all the incentives right now to come here and try to win. We have to play smart."

And that is head coach Danny Maciocia's key message this week: play smart and cut down on the penalties.

So far this season, the Esks have repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with stupid penalties.

And in their last game, they set a team record with 227 penalty yards, thanks in part to a lack of discipline in the heat of the moment.

"A lot of things are being said and sometimes there is some extra curricular activity underneath those piles that not everybody sees," remarked Maciocia.

"But you have to be careful.

"Before you know it, somebody will say something and you will pull a Zinedine Zidane (the French soccer player who head-butted an opponent) and you will be short-handed and it will cost you a football game, not a World Cup."

Veteran receiver Ed Hervey believes this team - which is 2-2 and tied for second - can't afford to blow this football game this week.

"Take a look at the parity in the league, with Calgary losing to Hamilton and B.C. losing to Saskatchewan," he said.

"Right now, the team that gets on a roll puts themselves in a great position to take over first place.

"Any team that can build a substantial lead in the West gives themselves a cushion later on for those tough games that you might end up slipping in.

"This is a game we have to win.

"You give away a game here or there early in the season, come November you will look back and it will be the difference between finishing first, second or third."

FINISH LINES: Maciocia is somewhat concerned about the possible pitfalls - a letdown or rusty play - after a bye.

But in the last three years, the bye hasn't been a problem for the Esks. They are 4-1 in the regular season after a week off.


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