Jyles’ time has come

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:51 PM ET

When he signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as a free agent back in February, Steven Jyles expected to battle Stefan LeFors, Ricky Santos and others for the starting quarterback spot.

LeFors, who had the most CFL experience, was coming off an injury and had his confidence shattered by the strange regime that oversaw the franchise last season. But, when LeFors decided to take a pass, the Bombers signed former B.C. Lion Buck Pierce, and Pierce then won that coveted starting job.

But now that Pierce has suffered a knee injury, Jyles will finally get his first start as the Bomber QB when the Edmonton Eskimos come to town this Saturday.

“This is big,” Jyles said Tuesday. “I came here this year to start. I finally get a chance to start and it’s paid off. I can’t wait to play.”

Jyles, 27, has only started once before, completing seven of 13 passes for 99 yards for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2008.

Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice coached Jyles in Saskatchewan and knows all about his potential.

“We’ll have to see him on the field to see how things go,” said LaPolice, then the Roughriders offensive co-ordinator. “But … you have to have patience with a lot of these quarterbacks. (Saskatchewan’s) Darian Durant is a perfect example. This is Year 5 for him and he’s having a great year, but he had to play a little bit in order to get to that level. Anthony Calvillo, I can’t tell you how many times I heard the story of Anthony, when he was in Hamilton and threw the most picks of his career; then he went to Montreal and settled down. So, that’s part of the process of developing quarterbacks up here. I think he’ll have a good week of prep and we’ll go try to beat the Eskimos.”

But, should the Pierce injury keep him out longer than expected, Winnipeg’s fortunes will fall on how Jyles performs.

“I just want to go out there and lead the team, that’s all,” said the 6-foot, 207-pound Louisiana-Monroe product. “Not do too much. Throw the ball where it needs to be thrown and protect the football.”

Jyles completed nine of 13 passes for 85 yards after Pierce was forced out of the game against Hamilton last week.

“You never know when the time comes,” Jyles said. “I knew that one day they would call on me. It’s sad that Buck got hurt but … I knew I was going to play one day and here it is now.

“Buck has his own style and I have mine. He’s been playing for a while, so he has kind of identified himself as a starter. He knows what he can do. I’m still trying to get out here and see if I can bring my full potential out.”

Bomber offensive lineman Steve Morley played with Jyles in Saskatchewan in ‘08.

“Steven Jyles is a QB with a lot of potential,” Morley said. “He’s been in the league for about five years now so, I think he should be up to the challenge. He’s confident, he takes control of the huddle and he wants to win.”

Pierce is also a believer in his backup.

“He’s been in this offence,” he said. “He had a great training camp and he’s a very smart player as well … He sees a lot on the sidelines and will help me when I come off. He’s a great guy and will do a good job.”

While Jyles may be known for his scrambling ability, do not sell his arm short.

“He has a strong arm,” LaPolice said. “When things break down, he can read the play and he made good decisions in the last game.

“He’s someone who’s been on the football field and seen it all and I think the game will slow down for him. That’s when it’s real easy for a quarterback to play.”

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos