Blue hope flight will propel them from back of the bus

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:22 PM ET

They’re going to hop a plane in an effort to get out from the back of the bus in the CFL East.

The last-place Winnipeg Blue Bombers will depart from a much-detested tradition and fly to Regina for Sunday’s game, instead of taking a six-hour bus ride.

Team brass hopes the first-class travel will result in a first-class effort against the 5-3 Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“That’s one of the things the organization felt we wanted to do to help the players,” head coach Paul LaPolice said Wednesday. “It’s an hour flight. We’ll be able to practice how we want to get prepared, then take a jump flight over and they’re more relaxed and ready to play the game.”

The flight could even prevent an injury or two.

One year, Bomber punter Bob Cameron hurt his back during the bus ride, and LaPolice remembers Saskatchewan lineman Wayne Smith doing the same thing on the bus to Winnipeg for the Banjo Bowl rematch, a week after the Labour Day Classic.

“I’m not a fan of six-hour bus rides, myself,” first-year Bomber quarterback Buck Pierce said. “Especially before a game. It’ll be good to fly in, get off your feet, do what we need to do — and that’s go win a ball game. I’m sure the guys that have been here are pretty excited about it.”

Veteran centre Obby Khan is. “And the fact we’re forking out all that extra money to fly there puts a little fire under us,” Khan said. “Normally we take the bus to save money. Now they’re expecting big things from us.”

BYE-BYE BRACE: Unhappy with how it weighed him down, Pierce tossed his knee brace aside for Wednesday’s practice, and liked the results.

“It’s a lot lighter,” Pierce said. “My speed’s probably a little bit better. I’m able to actually bend the knee and actually run, instead of having it stop at a certain point. I threw a couple of balls in the dirt, but overall I felt pretty good.”

LaPolice still hasn’t decided whether Pierce or Steven Jyles will be his starter on Sunday.

Pierce, still heavily taped, says his right knee, first hurt Week 3, is stable.

“It’s how sore will it get, how fast will it warm up and will it stay loose?” Pierce said. “Once I got warm it felt pretty good. Obviously, it’s still sore ... but it feels better than it did (Tuesday). There’s not a lot of soreness or swelling.”

MR. VERSATILITY: Chris Greaves has gone from a starting university D-lineman to a starting CFL O-lineman in three short months.

Winnipeg’s sixth-round draft pick in May, Greaves is expected to make his first pro start at guard Sunday, replacing Brendon LaBatte, who moves to tackle because of injuries to Andre Douglas and Luke Fritz.

Greaves played the last three quarters of the Aug. 19 loss in Montreal after Fritz went down.

“My own teammates said I played fairly well for a guy who’s not been on the O-line too long,” the Western Ontario product said. “So I’ll just take it from them.”

ROLL CALL: Slotbacks Terrence Edwards (ankle) and Brock Ralph (the flu), along with corner Jovon Johnson (hamstring) sat out practice Wednesday, but are expected to play on Sunday.

Rookie receiver Cory Watson will miss at least a week with a knee sprain. He joins receiver Terence Jeffers-Harris (ankle) and kicker Louie Sakoda (calf) in sick bay.

NEW BLOOD: Receiver Greg Carr has joined the practice roster, a year after a failed NFL tryout with San Diego and two years after completing a stellar college career at Florida State.

The 6-foot-6, 214-pounder was his team’s leading receiver in 2007 and ’08, but went undrafted due to a lack of speed.

(With files from Kirk Penton)


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