Steven Jyles, you’re up.
Buck Pierce’s sprained right knee is not healthy enough for the quarterback to play his type of game, so the backup Jyles will get his fourth start of the season — and fifth of his career — on Thursday night in Montreal.
The Bombers are 2-5 and on a three-game losing streak, while the Alouettes are 5-2 after falling to the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday.
“We have to win, bottom line,” Jyles said Sunday. “You should want to win every week, but this week we’re 2-5 and we really need a win. It’ll turn our season around big time if we go in here and take Montreal.”
Pierce started Friday’s 39-28 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats but was pulled in the second quarter after it became evident his knee was affecting his mobility. Pierce wasn’t moving any better on Sunday and won’t dress Thursday.
“He was sore today,” head coach Paul LaPolice said. “It’s not fair to Buck to have Buck in the game if he’s not who he is, so we’re going to hold him for as much as we can.”
LaPolice said the goal is to let Pierce heal during the team’s bye week and possibly have him ready to go for the Labour Day Classic on Sept. 5 in Regina. LaPolice said Pierce did not aggravate the injury on Friday night.
Jyles took over for Pierce against the Ticats and completed 14 of 22 passes for 227 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Jyles has decent numbers this season — his efficiency rating is second in the CFL behind only Montreal’s Anthony Calvillo — but he is 1-2 as a starter. He almost got the Bombers back in Friday’s tilt, but, to be fair, the Bombers trailed 31-14 when he entered the match.
Jyles’ efficiency rating is high because he has thrown two interceptions against six touchdowns and he has completed 63% of his passes. He had an ill-timed fumble in the 29-22 loss to Hamilton on Aug. 7, but he has shown the ability to limit turnovers.
“That fumble hurt me real bad, because I take a lot of pride in protecting the football and as the quarterback you’re the most important person on the team as far as protecting the football,” Jyles said. “I take a lot of pride in that, and I don’t want to let my team down by turning the ball over.”
Now he just needs to get better at the deep ball. Jyles had Chris Davis wide open down the sideline on Friday, but his toss drifted out of bounds. If he had been on the mark, the Bombers would’ve gotten to within 11 points just two minutes into the third quarter.
“That was a sure touchdown, but that just comes from repping it,” he said. “Naturally you know if you’re running to your left and you throw it, you have to put it a little bit inside. And I threw it right at the guy, and it drifted on me out of bounds.
“So that’s one thing I keep in the back of my mind. I won’t miss another throw like that.”
LaPolice wants everyone to remember that Jyles has played well for someone with only four career starts.
“He is getting better, and there’s things we’re continuing to work on with him,” LaPolice said. “He’s put us in a position to win football games, and we have to finish as a team.”