Even though it's not official, it looks and sounds as if Buck Pierce is done for the year.
Winnipeg's No. 1 quarterback suffered a dislocated elbow in the late stages of Sunday's 27-23 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 48th Labour Day Classic at Mosaic Stadium.
"It's pretty severe," head coach Paul LaPolice said Monday. "He's going to be out a long time. It might be nine games.
It was just dislocated and they put it back in, and I think one of the bones chipped. A dislocation like that takes a long time to rehab, especially when it's his throwing hand."
Backup Steven Jyles, who was likely going to be Winnipeg's starting quarterback before the team signed Pierce in April, will take over as the No. 1 pivot once again.
"Now it's my time," Jyles said after Sunday's game. "It's my time to get out and play, and I just have to be productive and lead the offence."
Alex Brink moves up to the backup role, while Joey Elliott is No. 3. LaPolice said there are no immediate plans to bring in another quarterback.
The Bombers didn't make Pierce available to the media on Monday, but he did issue a statement through the team's Twitter feed.
"I'm extremely frustrated and disappointed," Pierce wrote. "Thank you to all the fans for their support."
Jyles started four games, winning one of them, after Pierce suffered a sprained knee on July 16 in Hamilton. Jyles has completed 63% of his passes for 1,322 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions. He has 282 rushing yards but has lost three of five fumbles.
"Now he's going to be the guy for I would assume the rest of the year as long as he plays well," LaPolice said. "He gets his chance to prove he can help us win football games, because that's what we have to do.
"We have to win football games down the stretch to get in (the playoffs). That's a great opportunity for the kid."
Pierce and Jyles have both guided the Bombers to one victory this season, but LaPolice said the team will still take a significant hit losing its No. 1 gunslinger. While at first blush it may appear there wasn't much difference between the quarterbacks, LaPolice said Pierce was on top of the depth chart for a reason.
"In Buck's two starts there was a difference," LaPolice said. "If you picked your MVPs after two games on offence in the league, Buck Pierce probably would have been the guy."
LaPolice feels for the 28-year-old Pierce, who has left 10 of his last 27 games due to injury. The California native spent five injury-plagued seasons with the B.C. Lions, and the Bombers probably weren't going to sign him until Stefan LeFors told the team he was retiring.
After investigating further, Winnipeg felt Pierce was healthy enough to bring on board.
"When we signed him we just felt he was cleared and he'd be OK and he'd have issues just like anybody else, but sometimes there are freak injuries that happen," LaPolice said. "I feel terrible for the kid because he's such a great pro. He's one of the best pros I've ever been around."
It wouldn't be surprising if the Bombers put Pierce on the nine-game injured list to keep his second-half salary off the cap count. It's believed they gave him a $40,000 signing bonus and were paying him a $90,000 base. He also could have made up to $70,000 had he started every game, so he won't come close to that figure.
There were no other significant Bomber injuries in Sunday's game, but LaPolice revealed on his weekly radio show Monday night that rookie slotback Terence Jeffers-Harris will miss at least three more weeks due to a high ankle sprain.