Blue's starting QB position still up for grabs

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:44 AM ET

They have no exhibition games left and must start preparing for their season-opener on July 2nd soon.

Yet, Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice is still not ready to name his starting quarterback.

“We’ll do that sometime next week,” LaPolice said Monday. “We won’t wait for the game or anything crazy like that.”

That job is obviously between Buck Pierce and Steven Jyles, the only two quarterbacks in camp with CFL experience. And Jyles just made that choice more difficult with his solid outing in Hamilton.

“Part of the reason we brought (Jyles) here was because of the things he did (Sunday),” LaPolice said. “He has mobility, he understands the game. The game slowed down for him; he made some really good throws (Sunday) … We brought him here to compete for the starting job and I think he’s done that.”

Jyles completed nine of 14 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown, and scampered for another 24 yards on two carries — a vast improvement over his performance the previous week.

“I threw the ball pretty well,” he said. “Last week was just one of those games, the ball slipping out of my hands and I was trying too hard. This week I just said, ‘Play the game and treat it like practice and you’ll be OK.’

“I was very comfortable with it, and that was my mindset. Just stay calm. It’s just like when you practice the plays. Don’t try to make it more than it is.”

Pierce, meanwhile, completed only two of three passes for 16 yards.

LaPolice, however, said Pierce had to deal with blown pass routes.

RETURN HEADACHE: Because rookie KR Travis Shelton failed to catch the ball on a punt return, it led to an easy Hamilton TD. Shelton claimed the ball never hit him.

“It looked like he touched it on the film we saw,” said LaPolice, who is not convinced that Shelton can fill the returner role.

“We didn’t make great decisions, whether it’s fair or unfair because he’s been hurt and hasn’t caught as many punts as he’d like to. But you’re 13-7 (down) at that point in the game; we had just scored a touchdown and stopped them on defence. We were going to get pretty good field position and then, they return (his fumble) all the way for a touchdown. So, the biggest thing is they’ve got to be able to catch the football and if we get people we don’t trust to catch the football, then Jovon will do it.”

That would be starting cornerback Jovon Johnson, who was a dynamite returner last season.

“It’s not like Jovon’s somebody who will just catch the football, Jovon’s one of the most explosive returners in the league,” LaPolice said. “But there is liability with one of your best secondary players also returning kicks. But hey, in this business, there’s a lot of liability so that’s what you plan how to best be successful. Things will come to fruition on that in the next few days.”

HASHMARKS: The Bombers are waiting for LB Derrick Doggett to clear NFL waivers before talking to him about returning to Winnipeg … Long snapper Chris Cvetkovic suffered a knee injury but LaPolice did not know the full extent of it Monday … WR Aaron Hargreaves also suffered a mild concussion but should be ready to play the first game, LaPolice said.

A BIT HEFTY: Former Bomber OL Matt Sheridan, who had been trying out for Calgary, has retired, the Stampeders announced. Sheridan had weighed in at 383 pounds at training camp.

“He came to the realization that he isn’t in the type of shape he needs to be in,” Hufnagel told Calgary reporters. “He wants to go home to Winnipeg and work diligently at reducing his weight and bettering his conditioning.”

— With files from Kirk Penton

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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