Bruised ego, body may sideline Ticats’ Bruce

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:57 PM ET

The Hamilton offence is on the clock.

Two games in we're still waiting to see if this unit that includes an 11-year veteran at quarterback, a receiving corps that had the third or fourth best numbers in the league a year ago and returns just about everyone, can get back on track.

Arland Bruce, one of the self-appointed "marquee" players of that unit believes the time has come.

The only question is whether he'll be a part of it this weekend.

Bruce, who sat out back-to-back-to-back practices this week with an undisclosed lower body injury -- we still half believe Marcel Bellefeuille kicked him in the ankle after he went public with TSN about his lack of involvement last week -- was on the field and practising Thursday looking very much like the Arland Bruce of old.

He says he's in no pain, although he admits there was considerable pain last week in Edmonton. But even Bruce wasn't ready to declare himself a player or a spectator for Saturday's battle of the 0-2's.

"We are going to let the coach access it and see what he says and see what is best for the team and for myself and see what happens," Bruce said sounding very much like a team player.

Bellefeuille said he liked what he saw from Bruce but would reserve a decision until he had talked to the doctors, the therapists and considered the "risk to the player."

The way Bellefeuille sees it, he could have as many as three receivers ready for two spots if Bruce clears whatever final medical hurdle remains. It would be Bruce, rookie Bakari Grant and the productive but seemingly forgotten Marquay McDaniel.

McDaniel has been on the injured list since the beginning of the regular season but spent the week taking reps with the starting offence. Even with Bruce back in the fold Tuesday, McDaniel was still getting time with the starters.

McDaniel had seven touchdowns and just under 1,000 yards receiving a year ago so he's obviously capable. And with Bellefeuille looking to shake up the offence, inserting him in the lineup would serve that end.

But so too would an offence that played a week without Bruce.

When you consider the offence returns pretty much intact from last year with the exception of new running back Avon Cobourne, the only real change has been the tweaks to the playbook that incoming offensive coordinator Khari Jones made. But Bellefeuille didn't want to put all the team's offensive struggles on that.

"Everything affects everything," he said. "Part of it is the tweak (to the playbook) and guys still getting on the same page with each other, part of it is injuries and some of it is circumstances," Bellefeuille said. "It wasn't the best conditions in Edmonton and we had to go against the wind for the long quarter. Rain and what not and stopping and starting so it was tough to find our rhythm."

Whatever the reason, Bellefeuille knows it must change soon. The 0-2 start is bad. He doesn't want another 1-4 start like a year ago either.

"We played good offence last year and we're more than capable of doing that again this year and I expect to at some point," he said.

While careful not to divulge too much, Bellefeuille did tell reporters the offence was tweaked for the second consecutive week in the hopes of making it easier for his players to execute.

"This is the second week in a row the coaches have made some subtle adjustments to what they are doing and to try and make it simpler and create more opportunity for these guys," he said. "End of the day though it comes down to execution and players have to execute the game plan and the coaches have made adjustments to help them do that."

It doesn't hurt the Ticats' chances that the injury-ravaged Roughriders provide the opposition this week. Their defence has given up over 40 points a game in the first two and look very much like they're going through the defensive equivalent of what Hamilton's offence has experienced.

Someone has to win the game and based on that we'll give the edge to the Tabbies. At some point all that talent is going to start to show.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca

BRUCE PLAYS NAME GAME

For a guy who made a point of making sure everyone saw what appeared to be a name change, Arland Bruce III shut down any questions about his new name rather quickly on Thursday.

It was Tuesday that Bruce, who was not practising with the team at the time, came out with the name 'Reth' taped over his nameplate on the back of his jersey.

Thursday was the first day he could answer questions about the name change and he chose not to.

"Runako Reth is actually the full name, but we're not going to get into that," Bruce said.

Head coach Marcel Bellefeuille noticed and was asked if he found it odd that a player would decide to change his name in such a manner.

"It's not odd and it's not a permanent change," Bellefeuille said. "Every so often especially when things are tense, it's good to let guys loosen up and allow it to be fun. Especially in times where we are. You don't want players to be tight. I kind of found it comical (Wednesday) and today will be the last time you see it."

For the record the African name Runako Reth translates loosely to handsome king.


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