Blue have a primary concern

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:34 PM ET

It was about a year ago that the Winnipeg secondary started to round into form as one of the most feared group of ball-hawkers in the league.

In fact, the Blue Bombers led the CFL in picks with 28 last season.

Well, not only have those hawks almost disappeared, they have become prey for opposing passers.

In the last game, Hamilton’s Kevin Glenn completed 18 of 26 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns. The match before, Glenn completed 24 of 41 passes for 371 yards and three majors. Before that, Calgary’s Henry Burris completed 28 of 38 passes for 340 yards two TDs.

“We’ve got to get put in better situations,” Bomber cornerback Jovon Johnson said after Winnipeg’s third straight loss last Friday. “We’ve got to fight harder. We’ve got to train ourselves to be better at the end of the day. We’ve got to go out and perform … We’ve got to line up and play football like we know how.”

The Bombers, by the way, have only picked off six passes to date, which ties them with B.C. for second-last.

They will face Alouettes Anthony Calvillo, the CFL’s top-rated passer, in Montreal on Thursday.

“It’s definitely not going to get any easier,” said Johnson, who was beaten badly on one play early in the last Hamilton match. “Montreal’s going to be ready to play. Hopefully, we’ll be able to match whatever they’ve got to throw at us.”

Winnipeg does not plan any significant personnel changes to the reeling secondary before that.

“I truly believe the talent we have here is good enough to do the things we want them to do,” said Bomber defensive co-ordinator Kavis Reed. “We just need to focus and concentrate. Right now, they’re young guys who are getting confused a little bit by motion and, until they see it enough, they’re going to have some issues.”

Actually, only defensive back Alex Suber, safety Brady Browne and backup DB Brandon Stewart lack CFL experience. Johnson, cornerback LaVar Glover and defensive back Clint Kent have seen it all before.

“They got us on a couple of plays and that sometimes comes when you play a team four times,” Glover said, referring to the four-game series versus the Tiger-Cats. “They know a little bit about your tendencies and they caught us slipping. The second half, they didn’t do too much and we did a little bit better.

“You can’t afford to get caught slipping against anybody in this league. Montreal has done a good job offensively over the years and they’re doing a good job this year. But, as long as we focus on what we have to do, we’ll be all right.”

Glenn pounced on mistakes early in the last match but Winnipeg limited him (to less than 60 yards passing) in the second half.

“We didn’t change anything,” Reed said. “We just decided that we were going to be visually smart, we were going to focus on the things that we need to focus on, and not try to be Superman and do things outside of what we’re asked to do.”

But limiting Calvillo will be even a bigger challenge.

“We’re going to have to be on top of our game in order to have a chance against him,” Reed admitted. “We know that Anthony’s going to have a good game. We just have to minimize the damage and be where we’re supposed to be.”

Kent, an ex-Alouette, knows all about Calvillo after practising against him for three years.

“He’s a great quarterback, a hall-of-famer,” Kent said. “He’s going to get the ball out real fast. He predicates things on timing routes … so, we’ve got to be physical and disrupt their timing.”

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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