Blue counting on defence

Barrin Simpson and the rest of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defence has to step it up against the B.C....

Barrin Simpson and the rest of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defence has to step it up against the B.C. Lions tonight. (Winnipeg Sun/Marcel Cretain)

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

This one will go beyond the battle of the backup quarterbacks.

Yes, backup Mike Quinn will make his first CFL start when Winnipeg plays host to the B.C. Lions in a CFL contest at Canad Inns Stadium tonight (7 p.m.). And Buck Pierce is expected to get the nod for the Leos.

But, aside from injured quarterback Kevin Glenn (knee), the Blue Bombers will also be without veteran slotback Milt Stegall, who was the CFL's top receiver before suffering cracked ribs two games ago. And some would suggest that the Bombers will have no chance versus the top dog in the West.

'CANCEL THE GAME'

"Then, let's cancel the game right now," Winnipeg head coach Doug Berry joked yesterday. "We're going to be out there to play and B.C. will know that we've come to play. Milt Stegall doesn't play defence and neither does Kevin Glenn. Milt Stegall doesn't kick off and Kevin Glenn doesn't kick field goals."

In other words, the onus is on the defence and special teams to pick up the slack.

"This is a huge game, especially after losing our last two home games and then going into a bye week (next week)," said Bomber middle linebacker Barrin Simpson. "You never want to go into a bye week with a loss. It eats you up. Even the five-day turnaround eats you up because you're so anxious to get back out there and play."

And the fact that the Winnipeg defence looked so inept against Hamilton last week has been eating them up all week.

"Oh man, it was just brutal," Simpson said.

Winnipeg fell to 5-3 after the 26-11 loss to the Tiger-Cats last week while B.C. is alone in first in the West with an identical 5-3 log after beating Edmonton 34-17. But the last thing the Bombers want to do is fall to 5-4 before taking a week off.

"It's big," said defensive back Anthony Malbrough. "Going into the bye week, you never want to leave and have that many days off where you can't redeem yourself.

"So, we definitely want to make a statement. B.C. is like the top team in the West so, the thing we want to do is come out and be dominant. It's not to be out there just to be out there and get ready for the bye. We want to win. We want to go into the bye with a win so that when we come back, we'll feel good about ourselves."

And don't write them off just because Glenn and Stegall are hors de combat, said B.C. slotback Geroy Simon.

"They're still strong," said the former Bomber. "(Wide receiver) Chris Brazzell can make plays at any given time and (tailback) Charles Roberts is probably the best back in the league. I mean, he's electric so, they still have some weapons even though Milt's not playing and Kevin's not playing. Charles Roberts can hurt you. They still have some weapons and they're dangerous."

Berry, however, said the Bombers will miss both of them.

"Milt has been our go-to guy and Kevin has been the go-from guy," he said.

Pierce, meanwhile, has started before, and looked good in the second half of last week's victory over Edmonton, replacing the injured Dave Dickenson (high ankle sprain). Pierce, however, was the pitcher of record when the Bombers blew out B.C. here last year.

"We're going up against a better opponent this year," said the 6-foot-1, 210-pound New Mexico State product. "Winnipeg's defence is very physical and is very strong up front. But I think we can test their secondary a little bit so, I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a big game."


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