If Buck Pierce does return to the Winnipeg lineup as the starting quarterback on Friday night, he will have a new left tackle protecting his blind side.
Luke Fritz will make just his second career start at left tackle against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in place of the injured Andre Douglas.
“I’m just excited to see what we can do,” said Fritz, who was mostly a right tackle during his days with the Montreal Alouettes. “I love our offence. It’s very suited for my abilities. The things that I can read and I can see, I can definitely add a dimension to this team.
“The things that I am weaker at, my strengths will definitely outweigh my weaknesses.”
Fritz said he graded out “great on the run” and “needs a little work on the pass” after taking over for Douglas in the first quarter of last Saturday’s 29-22 loss to the Ticats in Hamilton.
Head coach Paul LaPolice said Fritz graded out “very well. He played very well and jumped in there with minimal reps at tackle.”
It’s been nearly three years since Fritz started his one and only game at left tackle. Coincidentally, it happened in Winnipeg when he was a member of the Alouettes. It was the 2007 East Division semifinal, which the Bombers won on Troy Westwood’s last-second field goal.
“I shut down the two Winnipeg ends,” Fritz said of Gavin Walls and Tom Canada.
Fritz joined the Blue and Gold last February as a free agent, but he made only two starts, at right guard, in 2009. He entered this season as the sixth man when the Bombers decided to go with two import tackles.
“When I prepare for being the sixth man, I tend to do it a lot slower,” Fritz said. “I’m not, like, ready to go at the beginning of the game. I warm up, and I’m just kind of loose, and then I continually warm up during the game. When I’m starting, I gotta be ready to go on that first snap.
“It’s harder to do the sixth man thing and just always be ready than it is to just go in there and be ready when it starts, especially in this young frame of mine.”
The B.C. native, who turned 32 on Tuesday, felt before the season began that he should be a starter, and he’s hoping to prove it to the coaching staff with his play.
“I’m not putting a ton of pressure on myself. I’m not, like, freaking myself out or anything,” he said. “I’m just going out there, and I’d like to think when you’re in there you’re begin evaluated.
“So if you can add something to the team — not only being a ratio changer, but a good football player — that should be looked at. Not just a great backup.”
If Wednesday’s practice is any indication, the Bombers are going to go with eight Canadian starters instead of the required seven against the Tabbies.
“I try not to get into the import/non-import thing,” LaPolice said. “If they’re the best players, that’s the best players. That’s how you do it.”