Still some swagger

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:13 AM ET

No middle linebacker, no starting quarterback, and no wins in four tries.

Does that mean there's no hope?

That's certainly what it looks like for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who will take on the Calgary Stampeders tonight at Canad Inns Stadium (7 p.m., TSN/CJOB).

The Blue and Gold are 0-4, while the Stampeders are 3-1 and arguably the most well-rounded squad in the league. Calgary leads the league in total yards, points surrendered and rushing yards allowed.

The Bombers don't lead the league in anything except losses, and the future doesn't look bright when you consider the hearts of their offence and defence, quarterback Kevin Glenn and linebacker Barrin Simpson, won't be on the field tonight.

The struggling Glenn has been benched in favour of Ryan Dinwiddie, who will make his second career start.

"I'm definitely excited for that," Dinwiddie said. "Everybody looks to get a starting job here and then obviously play well and take it from there and become a very good starter in this league.

"But one step at a time. I was excited to play in the Grey Cup and then in the pre-season got to play a lot, so it kind of got the ball rolling.

"... We have a lot of talent here. We haven't put it together. We're going to go in this week and put it together. The only thing we can do is go out there and win."

Simpson, meanwhile, is out for the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle and will be replaced by rookie Joe Lobendahn.

"Everybody started somewhere, right?" defensive tackle Jerome Haywood said. "Barrin Simpson was not always a starter. We know Kevin Glenn was not always a starter."

Proving that the Bombers haven't lost their swagger completely, Haywood almost dared the Stampeders to challenge Lobendahn.

"If they plan to do anything different, that's going to go against them, because Joe is not bad," he said. "Joe is a baller. He's just waiting for his opportunity."

If Bomber fans are looking for any other kind of silver lining, it could be argued that their favourite team has less pressure on it this evening because no one is expecting it to win.

THEN AGAIN ...

"Forget that," defensive back Anthony Malbrough said. "I don't care what they're expecting. What I'm saying is it's more pressure because we don't have a win, and we have to get a win."

Malbrough, in fact, believes his defensive teammates would be less tense if Simpson were playing.

"There's things that he does as a leader that some guys can't do," Malbrough said. "So now we have to fill his void and make plays and do the things that we were doing before. That's why there's more pressure for us.

"And then on top of that we're 0-4, and we have to win."

The Stampeders must be drinking from the same Kool-Aid jug as Malbrough, because they won't hit the field tonight thinking they're the bee's knees. They agree that Winnipeg's replacements will have an even stronger desire to succeed, especially at quarterback.

"Dinwiddie will be really fired up," defensive end Mike Labinjo said.

"I'm sure he's looking for another opportunity to show what he can do.

"We've seen a little bit from him during last year's Grey Cup and parts of this season. He seems like a good quarterback who is capable of running their offence.

"He may be a better scrambler and a bit quicker (than Glenn). He's bigger and seems like a tough player, a guy who will stay in there to take a hit."

The Bomber defence had a strong outing against the B.C. Lions last week but faltered in the fourth quarter of the 27-18 loss. They will need to put four solid quarters together if the Bombers are going to have a hope against Henry Burris and the Stamps.

"Henry is the hottest quarterback out there right now, and I would love to be the one to help cool him off," Haywood said.

"We gotta put this flame out. I would love to put it out.

"Will it go out? Probably not. But at least we can throw some kind of water on there."


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