Jyles calls for help

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:37 PM ET

Head coach Paul LaPolice reported Wednesday that Steven Jyles “in all likelihood” will start for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday in Calgary.

To translate that football speak into English, it means there’s a better chance of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny going toe-to-toe on the next UFC card than there is of Buck Pierce starting against the Stampeders.

Pierce moved gingerly on his sprained right knee again on Wednesday and will take a seat for the second straight week.

Jyles, who thumped the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday, is ready for start No. 2 in Blue and Gold and the third of his career.

Earlier this week Jyles tried to seek out some hints from former Saskatchewan teammate Darian Durant, who got hit early and often in the Roughriders’ 40-20 loss to Calgary last Saturday.

“I talked to him and told him my insight from watching the game on TV,” Jyles said. “He made some statements here and there with what he wished he’d done differently.

“They were getting after him a little bit, and when you’re getting hit like that there’s nothing you can do as an individual but try to protect the football.”

BANGED UP: The injured list is still a long one for the Bombers, and it’s affecting several key positions.

Mike Renaud, the league’s top punter, watched practice for the second straight day thanks to a knee bruise he suffered against the Eskimos. Placekicker Alexis Serna will pull double duty if Renaud can’t go.

Leading receiver Terrence Edwards watched Wednesday’s workout because of back spasms.

Edwards is second in CFL receiving yards with 383.

Weak-side linebacker Marcellus Bowman missed a second straight day with a hand injury. The webbing between his ring and pinky fingers is badly cut, and there could be broken bones, according to LaPolice.

Bowman could still play, but Courtney Smith would take over if he can’t.

Returner-receiver Markus Howell also sat out Wednesday’s practice with a hamstring pull.

BIG LOSS: LaPolice is preparing for life without special teams ace Shawn Gallant, who was placed on the nine-game injured list on Tuesday.

“His knees are just a mess right now,” LaPolice said.

Gallant not only led the Bombers with 30 special teams tackles last season, but he has 11 years of CFL experience under his belt and was the man who was going to lead the cover teams out of their early season funk.

LaPolice hopes Gallant can still play a significant role.

“The thing we want to try to get, like everything else, is consistency on special teams. And that is the hardest thing to achieve because rosters change so much,” he said. “Hopefully he can still be a good teacher and mentor in the classroom for the next couple weeks. I talked to Brady Browne about stepping up in that leadership role on the field.

“So hopefully he can still contribute, but it’s more in the meeting rooms.”

LaPolice said Gallant’s knee problems were a big reason why he had only two special teams tackles through four games.

LATE HITS: Alex Suber, who has missed the last three games with a hamstring pull, was practising with the first-team defence at the strong-side halfback spot on Wednesday … Linebacker Merrill Johnson is back practising with the Bombers. He was let go a couple weeks ago but he stuck around town in case he was needed … Mark Nelson, who was Winnipeg’s defensive co-ordinator last season, resigned from his post as special teams and defensive ends coach at East Carolina University on Tuesday. He quit amid allegations that he broke NCAA rules by observing voluntary summer workouts ... The Stampeders are seven-point favourites over the Bombers.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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