No chess match

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

Michael Bishop has a 4-1 record as the Toronto Argonauts' starting quarterback this season.

He was also the one who came on in relief last November to end Winnipeg's Grey Cup hopes in the East Division semifinal.

The Blue Bombers are well aware of this. They are also cognizant that, after his dismal showing in Vancouver last Saturday, Bishop could easily become Santa Claus for their interception-starved secondary tomorrow at Rogers Centre.

"I would love to see bad Michael," cornerback Robert Bean said yesterday. "He gives a lot of presents away. For our defence, we just need some gifts."

The Bombers (7-3-1) battle the Boatmen (4-7) tomorrow afternoon at Rogers Centre, and Bishop is coming off his worst performance of the year. He completed just 11 of 34 attempts for 125 yards and also served up three interceptions in a 40-7 loss to the B.C. Lions.

Of Bishop's four victories as the starter this season, three have come against the hapless Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the other was versus a Calgary Stampeders squad that, at the time, couldn't beat itself in an instrasquad game.

The fact Bishop tanked against his toughest opponent of the season means little to Bombers defensive tackle Doug Brown.

"I'd like to see some more bad Michael. I'd love to meet bad Michael," he said. "Unfortunately, I haven't seen too much of him before."

'CHUCK IT UP'

Linebacker Ike Charlton returned to Winnipeg from the NFL only three weeks ago, but he remembers Bishop all too well from last year's East semifinal, in which he threw two touchdowns in the final eight minutes for a come-from-behind, 31-27 victory.

Charlton didn't exactly come out and say Bishop got lucky on his touchdown tosses that day ... OK, maybe he did say that.

"He just likes to chuck it up there," Charlton said. "A lot of his passes are not precise unless it's underneath stuff. But anything that's down field, he's just chucking it up and hoping his receivers make a play. That's what I've noticed from watching film.

"That's basically what he did to us in the playoff game last year with Kelly (Malveaux) and Anthony Malbrough over there. He just threw it up on the side, (the receiver) made a great play, and we missed a tackle. The other one, he threw it in the end zone. He just chucked it up. He was getting rushed, he was getting pressured, and threw it up and made the play.

"If we can limit that and make him actually be a quarterback, like we did with (Hamilton's) Casey (Printers), we can be successful."

Bishop can also get on his horse and take off if the passing game is not working. The Bombers are familiar with stopping the quarterback dash after dealing with Printers and Saskatchewan's Kerry Joseph over the last three weeks.

"As far as the D-line's concerned, we have to get after him early, get him razzled," defensive end Tom Canada said. "He's not the most mobile guy, but he can move. He can run around probably with most quarterbacks in the league."

"If we make him just sit in the pocket and throw and we get up on him early, we'll get to run our defence," added Charlton.

"If we're not able to run our defence, then they're able to open their playbook a little bit more. Hopefully he comes in and is erratic. If he's erratic, then we'll be fine."

Winnipeg is dead last in the CFL with four interceptions. Bean, who is without a pick this year after leading the team with four in 2006, said Bishop can still be spot on with his rocket arm.

"I've seen him throw some accurate deep balls," Bean said. "Hey, I've seen him overthrow deep routes. He'll overthrow the defensive back, and he'll be deeper than the wide receiver.

"You just have to be on top of your game with him, because you never know what game he'll come out with. Because in last year in the playoff game he came out blazing. You never know what Bishop you're going to get."


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