Blue down but not out

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

Mike Abou-Mechrek fired off the first e-mail salvo to a couple of his former Ottawa Renegades teammates yesterday morning.

Unfortunately for the offensive lineman, there just wasn't that much oomph behind them.

That's life when you play for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and your record is 3-9.

Abou-Mechrek, who spent the last three seasons in Ottawa, will make his first return to the nation's capital on Friday night when the Bombers battle the Renegades (5-6).

Winnipeg basically has to win its remaining six games to have any chance at making the playoffs, and Ottawa is one of the teams it's chasing.

Understandably, frustration is starting to mount on Maroons Road as the team's playoff fate becomes painfully clear.

At the end of Saturday's disheartening home loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, head coach Jim Daley and some of his players got into a yelling match with a fan sitting behind the team's bench.

There has also been some grumbling in the locker-room about the play calling and some of the schemes, which is almost certain to occur when a team is six games under .500.

Daley said his team may be down, but it's not out.

"There's a difference between disappointment and defeatism, and hopefully we don't encounter the second," Daley said. "Realistically it's always a danger, but if you go in with that as your anticipated reaction, then you usually get a self-fulfilling prophecy."

The players may not be defeated yet, but they certainly know they're trailing.

"I don't know what we do now," Abou-Mechrek said in a relatively subdued locker-room yesterday. "Surprisingly, the morale is still high in here. Not a lot of guys have folded up shop and are looking forward to the last week of the season to go home.

"We've got a bunch of soldiers here, and we're gonna go into Ottawa and do what we can."

There is talk about the Bombers being able to overtake the Renegades for the East Division crossover playoff spot, but what some forget is that Winnipeg also would have to finish with more points than either Calgary or Saskatchewan, which are both 5-6.

The Renegades and Bombers have both lost three straight games, but Winnipeg's last victory was a 38-17 thrashing of Ottawa on Aug. 19 at Canad Inns Stadium.

Abou-Mechrek circled that contest on the calendar and won the battle, but did he gloat?

"No, I'm very professional when it comes to that kind of stuff," he said with a smile. "I wasn't over at their hotel room after the game rubbing it in or anything ...

"OK, maybe a little bit. I rubbed it in in a very tasteful fashion, a very tasteful fashion."

He hopes to do it one more time.

"It's going to be a special day," he said. "I've had this one circled on my calendar as well. It's going to be good. It's going to be strange."


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