Doug Berry has dangled the carrots.
We're about to find out who's going to be eating those carrots.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach announced earlier this week that there would be changes to the starting lineup after their 39-12 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Sunday's Labour Day Classic.
Berry has given a couple of young players, most notably safety Ian Logan and defensive end Stevie Baggs, the opportunity to grab starting positions at practice this week.
If they perform well enough, the two players will make their first CFL starts on Sunday afternoon when the Bombers (5-6) battle the Roughriders (6-5) in the third annual Banjo Bowl at Canad Inns Stadium.
"I just wanted everybody on the team to understand that the benefit-of-a-doubt time is over, that it's time to put up," said Berry, whose club has lost four straight. "That's what we're looking for, and whatever motivation guys need to inspire their play at a higher level, if that's possible, then we're trying to create that motivation for them."
Logan is trying to nab the starting safety spot, which was vacated when Kyries Hebert moved up to the linebacker position to replace the demoted Donnavan Carter.
Logan, a rookie out of Wilfred Laurier, took most of the reps at practice on Tuesday, but he and Shawn Gallant split them yesterday. All he was told was that he was competing for the starting spot this week.
"I don't know any more than that," Logan said. "They haven't, I don't think, chosen quite yet."
If nothing else, it's propelled Logan to pick up his game. He said he's been more anxious at practice this week, which is the way he likes it.
"I'm really excited, and I can't wait," he said. "Hopefully I get the shot to start, and I'm just going as hard as I can to try to get that."
Baggs, meanwhile, is trying to unseat slumping sophomore Gavin Walls, last year's CFL rookie of the year, at one of the two defensive end spots.
"In this game you like to see production, and Gavin's production hasn't been this year what is was last year," Berry said. "We're not 100% sure why, but we certainly are going to make sure he understands that we have somebody else here that can compete, and he knows that.
"If there's been any lack in his play, then this should be a motivation to get it better. We're not totally dissatisfied with Gavin's play, but his production level is not what it had been."
Baggs has been given several reps this week, compared to none earlier in the season, and he's certainly jacked up about it. In fact, he got into a minor dust-up with newly signed offensive lineman Eric Wilson during yesterday's workout.
"Obviously I want to play, but I don't know exactly what the coaches' plans are for this week," Baggs said. "I'm just trying to practise hard and get my legs back right."
Berry said the first-team defences and offences at today's practice will indicate how they're going to line up on Sunday.
LATE HITS: More than 27,000 tickets have been sold for Sunday's game. Capacity will be approximately 36,000 thanks to the temporary seats in the south end zone ... Berry said Adam Eckert, Jamie Stoddard and Arjei Franklin will likely rotate at the wide-side slotback and receiver positions on Sunday ... Contrary to reports, Bombers GM Brendan Taman has not yet agreed to terms with OL Garrick Jones. "I wish I had," Taman said.