Whatever it takes

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were trailing the Saskatchewan Roughriders 19-16 in the fourth quarter on Saturday night.

And one of the Bombers' most trusted weapons, running back Charles (Blink) Roberts, carried the ball exactly zero times in those final 15 minutes.

Winnipeg went on to lose 19-17.

The man who once walked out on the team for a few days and who isn't afraid to speak his mind clammed up yesterday when asked to discuss how much he wants to run the ball over the final six games of the season.

"No comment," Roberts said.

The Bombers are wallowing in their worst season since 1999, and Roberts has gone seven straight games without 100 yards, which represents his longest such drought since his rookie campaign of 2001.

On the bright side for the Blue and Gold, Roberts still leads the CFL with 931 rushing yards, and his 176 carries are on par with his 12-game totals over the past three seasons.

But to not run him once in the fourth quarter of a three-point game the Bombers had to win to essentially keep their playoff hopes alive?

Isn't there something wrong with that picture?

'NEED TO GET BETTER'

Roberts, for one, doesn't plan on finding out. He hasn't spoken with offensive co-ordinator Mike Gibson or head coach Jim Daley about why he wasn't used more in the fourth quarter, and he doesn't plan to, either.

"I don't want the focus to be on me at this point in time of the season," Roberts said. "We just need to get better.

"We need to figure out what's going to work for our offence to produce and move the football down the field."

The offence has been playing better in the last month, but not good enough. The Bombers are 3-9 and are all but destined to miss the playoffs for a second straight season.

They take on the Ottawa Renegades (5-6) in the nation's capital on Friday night. Roberts will continue to do what's he told, and he'll do it quietly.

"It's (the coaches') job to figure out what's going to happen, and they certainly don't need me or any other player who feels like they need to be ... you know what I mean?" he said. "They don't need us coming to them now.

'WORKING HARD'

"I'm sure they're working hard and have gone over all the different possibilities, and they're gonna come up with the right one."

Roberts did carry the ball four times in the third quarter on Saturday night, and his dazzling 24-yard run early in the third moved the Bombers into field-goal range.

Troy Westwood, however, missed a 42-yarder, and Roberts hauled the ball only three more times after that.

Gibson said the fourth quarter of Saturday night's game was an anomaly, largely because the Bombers offensive line wasn't getting the job done.

"We didn't get him touches then because of what they were doing (on defence) and what we were doing up front," Gibson said. "It's just how it happened."

Roberts did have two passes thrown his way in the fourth quarter, Gibson noted, and he added that Roberts will continue to get touches on almost a third of the offence's plays.

"I hope I still am the man, but you can be the man and not have to get the ball 30 times for us to win games or for the offence to be productive," Roberts said. "We need to figure out what's going to work best for our offence.

"Whether that's with me as the focal point or a lot of different guys within the offence ... whatever it takes to get the job done."


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