The Winnipeg Blue Bombers return to the practice field today to begin preparations for their gigantic Thanksgiving Day clash in Steeltown.
The Blue and Gold (5-8) can move into a second place tie with the Tiger-Cats (6-7) in the East Division if they can beat them on Monday afternoon at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
The Ticats are 61/2-point favourites, even though they've lost three of their last four and the Bombers are on a two-game winning streak.
"Their backs are against the wall a little bit," head coach Mike Kelly said. "This will be a great challenge for us, and I expect our players to be up to it."
Considering his team was considered all but toast just a few short weeks ago, it's easy to understand why Kelly had a huge grin on his face yesterday.
"This winning stuff could grow on you after a while," he said.
Kelly gave his players and assistant coaches the last few days off, but they will get back at it this morning at 10:45.
"I'm glad the guys got a couple days off," Kelly said. "It's been a physical couple weeks. Now let's gear it up and get ready to go for Hamilton."
PORTER V. GLENN: It's unclear who will start at quarterback for the Tabbies, but Kelly said his team will be ready for either Quinton Porter or former Bomber Kevin Glenn.
"Porter has more mobility than maybe people give him credit for and does a nice job on some of the bootleg stuff and moving the pocket a little bit," Kelly said. "Where we pretty much know where Kevin is going to be. Although Kevin is running better this year than what he ran last year."
BARRIN WHO? The CFL trade deadline is a week from today, but it doesn't sound like the Bombers are about to trade disgruntled linebacker Barrin Simpson.
"The only time I think of that name is when you guys bring it up," Kelly said to members of the media.
Simpson, according to the Vancouver Province, called B.C. Lions GM and head coach Wally Buono on Monday to see if he was interested in his services.
Kelly, however, said no team has made a serious offer for Simpson.
THE BEST: Jovon Johnson was named CFL special teams player of the week yesterday.
Johnson was a unanimous selection for the honour after his 118-yard missed field goal return touchdown in Winnipeg's 27-17 win over the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday night.
Johnson also had five kick returns for 106 yards and seven punt returns for 79 yards.
The other winners were Lions quarterback Buck Pierce (offence) and slotback Paris Jackson (Canadian), and Montreal's Chip Cox (defence).
THE ANSWER? The Bombers are 2-0 since they signed Justin Shaw, but the former University of Manitoba Bison defensive lineman isn't about to ask for a bump in pay.
"I'm happy to be here, so I don't need to request a raise," Shaw said. "Getting paid is good enough for me."
Shaw was drafted by the B.C. Lions last year and spent most of the season on their practice roster. The Leos cut him during training camp this year, and the Bombers inked him on Sept. 23 -- his 27th birthday -- after prodding from safety Brady Browne, his former U of M teammate.
Shaw, who helped guide the Bisons to the Vanier Cup in November 2007, eschewed the working world and stayed in shape, pining for another shot. Now that he has it, he doesn't plan on letting it go to waste.
"Now I gotta prove I can stay," he said. "I'm excited."