Bombers' Jyles takes aim at No. 1

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:55 PM ET

Steven Jyles is willing to help if coach Paul LaPolice isn’t sure how to divvy up the playing time for Sunday’s exhibition game against Montreal.

“They can give me the whole game if they want to,” the Blue Bomber pivot said with a chuckle on Thursday.

Jyles won’t be getting the entire game, but he will get a decent chunk. LaPolice wants Jyles and Buck Pierce to both get at least one quarter of action, and maybe more. He’s not sure if Alex Brink and Adam DiMichele, who are battling for the No. 3 spot, will both get into the game.

The belief is that Pierce is Winnipeg’s No. 1 quarterback no matter what, given that he’s won 20 more games than Jyles has started in his CFL career.

LaPolice, however, isn’t willing to go there just yet.

“It’s a great battle,” he said. “… It’s still up in the air.”

Jyles signed as a free agent with the Bombers in February after spending the past two seasons in Saskatchewan, where LaPolice was the offensive co-ordinator. Jyles figured he’d be battling Stefan LeFors for the starting gig when he signed, but Pierce’s acquisition two months later made his mountain that much higher to climb.

The added stress of having to topple a proven winner appeared to weigh on Jyles in the first few days of camp, but he’s getting better.

“I had a lot of incompletions early on. I was getting used to guys and I was stressing a little bit, but I’m going with the right reads and I’m going where I need to go with the football,” Jyles said. “That’s all I can go off now and just continue to work to get better.”

Jyles didn’t give a straight answer when asked how he thinks his battle with Pierce is going in camp. He hinted, though, that he will be putting quite a bit of stock in Sunday’s clash with the Alouettes.

“We’re still progressing,” Jyles said. “Buck’s doing a great job throwing completions, and I’m trying to do the same myself. But it’s camp. It’s going good, and we’ll just have to see when the pre-season game comes.”

If the competition really is wide open, Jyles can make a serious move by putting up better numbers than Pierce on Sunday. Notably, Jyles believes one reason why he ended up as Saskatchewan’s backup last season was because Darian Durant showed better than he did in a pre-season game against Calgary.

“When his chance came around, he took advantage of the Calgary game,” Jyles said in an interview last month.

LaPolice was asked Thursday about Pierce’s demeanour and how the former B.C. Lion is loving his change of CFL address. The coach raved about how dedicated Pierce was, noting he hits the video room in his spare time when he could be resting after gruelling two-a-day workouts.

Asked if Jyles, who is a little more low-key than Pierce, showed the same such enthusiasm and dedication, LaPolice didn’t flinch.

“Always. Ever since I’ve known Steven he’s been that type of character kid,” LaPolice said. “In our meetings he’ll coach the receivers as much as the coaches will sometimes. He’s got that leadership ability, too, and the players respond well to him.”


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