HAMILTON — The day before every game, the Winnipeg Blue Bomber players who are appearing in their first game with the team are required to do a dance in front of their teammates at the conclusion of their mock game.
On Friday, that took six and a half hours.
We kid, but you get our drift.
No fewer than four members of the Blue and Gold will be making their Bomber debuts on Saturday at Ivor Wynne Stadium against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (6 p.m., TSN).
Three of the newbies will be making their pro debuts, and two will be either starting or returning kickoffs.
The Bombers (2-3) went into last weekend’s game in Calgary facing similar adversity, but this week’s is even greater after they lost even more players to injury against the Stamps.
They also cut linebacker Ike Charlton.
Bernard Hicks will take over for Charlton at strong-side linebacker, Deon Beasley will return kickoffs, and receiver Scott McHenry and safety James Green will play on special teams.
Only Green, who spent last season with the Toronto Argonauts, has played in a pro football game.
Winnipeg is also still riding its backup quarterback in Steven Jyles, but head coach Paul LaPolice strolled onto the Ivor Wynne turf Friday afternoon sounding mighty confident going into the opener of a big home-and-home series with the Ticats.
“We always have a term in our locker-room,” LaPolice said. “We say adapt, improvise and overcome. That’s what the game’s about: trying to find ways to figure it out and don’t have any excuses.”
The last time the Bombers were in Steeltown, the Ticats put them over their lap and spanked them pretty good, 28-7 on July 16.
The Tabbies were 0-2 going into that clash and they’re 1-4 going into this one, so it’s safe to say they’re getting quite familiar with the term ‘must-win.’
“These next two games are big,” Ticats offensive lineman George Hudson said. “We’re 1-4. We’ve already put ourselves in a hole. We can’t be 1-6. That’s a hard hole to climb out of.
“We’d have to win seven or eight out of 10 to get back in it. I know we’re a good team, but that’s hard for anybody.”
Winnipeg left guard Brendon LaBatte pointed out that the Bombers, who lost a close one to the Calgary Stampeders last weekend, should have collars that are almost as tight as the ones in Hamilton.
“If we lose we’re going to have the same record,” LaBatte said. “This is a big game. Desperation hasn’t set in for either team this early in the season quite yet, but it’s definitely a big game.”
LaPolice admitted stealing a road win on Saturday would be an advantage going into next weekend’s rematch at Canad Inns Stadium — the fourth and final meeting between the clubs in the season’s first seven weeks.
“We just want to get back to a win,” he said. “… In back-to-back games you always want to win the first one to see what you did well. That way you can say ‘These are the things we did well,’ and continue to do them.”