Blue playing for pride

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

What to do? What to do?

Their last tattered thread of CFL playoff hope snapped late Friday but the Winnipeg Blue Bombers still have three meaningless games left before they can pack up and go home.

The Calgary Stampeders mathematically eliminated Winnipeg from the playoff picture by beating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 34-17 late Friday.

But the 5-10 Bombers will still host the 8-6 Toronto Argonauts at Canad Inns Stadium today at 3 p.m. (CJOB).

"It's hugely disappointing to not make the playoffs but I wasn't counting on Hamilton to do us any favours," veteran Winnipeg guard Mike Abou-Mechrek said yesterday. "Of course, there's no playoff implications for us but you've got to find something to play for. As an offensive line, we want to get Charlie (Roberts) the rushing title. We want him to get 1,500-1,600 yards as well. That's a huge goal for us and has been all year."

The O-line also wants to lead the league in least sacks allowed.

"You're playing for yourself and your name and your team and everything else," Abou-Mechrek said. "If you need help getting up for any game, whether it's the Grey Cup or a pre-season game, you should go sell insurance or something."

The finality of missing out on that extra playoff coin hit home Friday.

"Obviously, you can't deny the realization that, for the second year in a row, there are no playoff implications for this team," said veteran defensive tackle Doug Brown. "You can't pretend that doesn't matter, but at the same time, you do what you need to do on the field -- whether it's a pre-season game, a playoff game or a regular-season game without playoff implications.

"As much as football's an emotional roller coaster, you really can't let things like that affect your intensity and your emotion on the field because it's your occupation. If anything, during these games, we're probably going to be evaluated more critically now than we might have been if we were still in the run. Now, it's all about making sure you've got the right players situated for next year."

In reality, missing this year's playoffs was a foregone conclusion long before Friday night.

"It's sad that we're not going to the playoffs but, like I said before, the only implications of that game was whether it was going to give us another shot to get into the playoffs," said Bomber quarterback Kevin Glenn. "Other than that, it's not like, 'OK, now, we just shut down and we shut the season off.' We've got three more games left.

"You approach it like any other game, you just go out and play. This is a job and if you don't do well, you don't have a job."

Recently-acquired defensive back Anthony Malbrough will make his Bomber debut in a game that has no playoff implications for Winnipeg.

"We've got to let them know we are guys who want to come back next year," Malbrough said. "Being that the (2006) Grey Cup is here in Winnipeg, we want to be prepared and make a strong push for it. Coming out and competing is the main thing -- not just laying down and let the other team run over you just because you're not in the playoffs."

Winnipeg head coach Jim Daley is confident his charges will not suffer a letdown today.

"It's human nature to be disappointed," he said. "It is less likely from a professional point of view and less acceptable from a professional point of view that there will be a letdown.

"We will play for the W because that it is the only way to eventually stabilize or establish ourselves."


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