Blue road worriers

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:13 AM ET

CALGARY — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are about to embark on one of the most important stretches of their season.

Despite battling the injury bug, the Bombers say there will be no excuses on Saturday night when they take on the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium (8:30 p.m., TSN).

Starting with Saturday’s clash against the 3-1 Stampeders, the 2-2 Bombers play four of their next five games on the road. Defensive tackle Doug Brown believes it’s critical for the Blue and Gold to pick up some out-of-province victories.

“We’re 2-1 at home. We should be 3-0 at home,” Brown said. “You can’t be successful in this league if you can’t win your share on the road. There’s no tougher opponent right now around than these guys to start off with.

“(Saturday) is setting the tone for the road trip.”

After the Stamps the Bombers have a home-and-home with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, starting next Saturday in Steeltown.

Then they have back-to-back monsters in Montreal and Regina, with the bye week sandwiched between them.

Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice gave his standard answer at the pre-game press conference in the bowels of McMahon Stadium on Friday, noting how the Bombers are in Cowtown to get two points and they’re not thinking about anything else.

He did, however, admit that he knows his team plays four of its next five away from Canad Inns Stadium. Considering LaPolice never looks into the future, that means it must be a big deal.

The Bombers cannot look past the Stamps, however, who looked like world beaters in last week’s 40-20 victory over the previously unbeaten Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Steven Jyles will make his second straight start — and third of his career — for the Bombers, and he will need to get rid of the ball quickly against the tenacious Calgary defence, which has allowed the fewest points through four weeks.

“They get after the quarterback,” LaPolice said. “(Defensive co-ordinator) Chris Jones has done a tremendous job. He plays a lot of cover zero, a lot of blitz coverage, and that’s what they believe in. And their front four is athletic.”

LaPolice wants to see Jyles take care of the ball a little better than he did in last week’s 47-21 win over Edmonton, against whom he threw two interceptions.

“And I hope the game continues to slow down for him,” LaPolice said. “This team plays fast.”

“I feel prepared,” Jyles said, “and I just can’t wait to put it to the test.”

Challenging

Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel, meanwhile, figures the Bomber defence is just as challenging.

The Stamps will have the CFL’s leading receiver in 2008, Ken-Yon Rambo, back for the first time in a year to counter that.

“They have excellent cover people,” Hufnagel said. “They play a match defence where they read routes. They’re quick to the ball, and they have an excellent pass rush.”

There have been suggestions this week that Jyles, who is playing for the injured Buck Pierce, has the ability to create a quarterback controversy with a victory over the Stamps. Buck Pierce has a sprained knee but could return as early as next week.

Jyles isn’t looking at it that way.

“No, I’m not,” he said. “My concern here is just going out and getting a win. It’d give us an extra two points.”

LaPolice believes Jyles has the intangibles to do just that.

“Our players believe he can lead us,” LaPolice said, “and that’s what you need.”


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