Anyone wondering how far the 6-7 Winnipeg Blue Bombers have come during their three-game win streak will find out tomorrow. A matchup with the 11-1 Montreal Alouettes, in hostile territory, tends to be very illuminating.
"Ready or not, here we come," Bombers receiver/kick returner Keith Stokes, a former Alouette, said yesterday. "We're not going to go out there and be afraid of them, just because they're 11-1. If we go out there and execute, we can come out with a victory."
'WORRY ABOUT US'
Jim Daley has also been preaching the "worry about us, not them" philosophy since taking over as head coach six games ago.
"Of course, they are the best team in the league," Daley added. "And it's a great measuring stick. But that's a secondary issue. Our guys are very, very focused on their performance. They know it's a big game. And they want to play great football. They have a great attitude."
Posing the biggest concern for the Winnipeg offence is Montreal's often-overwhelming pass rush.
When these teams met here a month ago, Bombers quarterbacks Khari Jones and Kevin Glenn were sacked a combined eight times, although three were because of bad snaps.
"It's a big challenge, because they like to do different things," said Glenn, starting his fourth straight game. "And they disguise it pretty well -- like, who's coming and who's not coming. Other teams try to emulate what they do. But ... I believe we're going to move the ball."
Daley concurs, saying the Bombers offence isn't anything like it was four weeks ago.
"We're more in sync with each other," he said. "In that game, we struggled a little bit, with one yard net offence in the first half. We're far beyond that now."
COUNTER-PUNCH: Bombers O-lineman Orlando Bobo used an interesting analogy in discussing the five-man unit's improved play of late.
"We've grown closer together as a unit, where we can work as a fist," Bobo said. "A tight fist. We're all on the same page."
Bobo and his mates haven't forgotten who landed more punches the last time.
"They kind of got the best of us," he said. "So that'll be good for us to be motivated off something like that."
BEN WHO?: The Als are expected to be without all-star receiver Ben Cahoon, but that doesn't seem to faze rookie Bombers defender Justin Coleman.
"I don't really give a damn who plays," Coleman said. "I don't know if that's cockiness or whatever. They're just catching us at a time we're getting our confidence up. I look back on how everything started back in May, to where we're at now ... we're finally putting it together.
"If we come to play our game, we'll come out of there with a win."
Daley was a little more generous where Cahoon was concerned.
"He's a great football player," the coach said. "So to see him not in the lineup would not break our hearts."
The only lineup change the Bombers will make from last week involves inserting Geoff Drover (hamstring) as a backup safety. Fullback Randy Bowles will sit.
MORE CALLS: GM Brendan Taman says he continues to field the odd call regarding the availability of Khari Jones.
Calgary and Toronto are believed to be interested.
But Taman says he's not pursuing any trades at this time.