LaPolice throws down the gauntlet

KIRK PENTON, Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:22 PM ET

The frustration levels have reached new heights on Maroons Road.

Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice was asked Tuesday what he said to his players before they hit the practice field for the first time since Sunday’s 17-13 loss to the Toronto Argonauts.

His answer made it clear that he threw down the gauntlet.

“I think they got my message on every meeting I sat in on today,” LaPolice said.

The rookie coach first told his players how disappointed he was that they couldn’t execute the simplest of tasks against the Boatmen. Then he let them know that if they don’t shape up, they’re going to get shipped out.

“I also told them that I’m behind them, that I’ll do anything for them and they’re my guys and I’m their guy, and whatever they need I’ll help them with,” LaPolice said.

“But I also will make change if I need to make change. I’m not real happy, and I’m sure not a lot of people are happy.

“… I’m disappointed. I’m frustrated. We had a very good opportunity (to win). If I’m a little more frustrated this week, yeah, I am more frustrated.”

The Bombers blew any chance of making the playoffs in the East Division with Sunday’s setback. They are 3-8, trail both the Argos and Hamilton Tiger-Cats by six points and have lost the season series to both squads.

Not only that, but three of their remaining seven games are against division leaders Montreal and Calgary.

Winnipeg’s only real chance of qualifying for the post-season is through the West Division, where the B.C. Lions are also 3-8 but sit in third place. The Bombers would have to finish with more points than the third-place team in the West to earn the crossover spot.

SUNSET OF THE AGE OF ADARIUS? First-team reps were few and far between for drop-prone Adarius Bowman on Tuesday.

The third-year pro had two more bad drops in Sunday’s game, so newcomer Greg Carr was getting most of the reps in place of Bowman and could be in the lineup on Friday against the Alouettes.

“We haven’t made that decision, but it could be in that direction, yes,” LaPolice said.

Slotback Chris Davis missed the practice because his girlfriend gave birth to a baby daughter, and the team let him fly home to the U.S. to be with them. It’s unknown when Davis will be back in Winnipeg, but LaPolice said he’ll miss “a day or so.”

Veterans Terrence Edwards, Doug Brown and Brendon LaBatte took the day off as well.

Rookie receiver Cory Watson, meanwhile, was back practising after missing the last three games with a sprained right knee.

KICKING IT: Justin Palardy and Louie Sakoda are competing to do the placekicking on Friday, but LaPolice said the former has the advantage.

“Palardy has the edge just because he’s been kicking for us so far,” LaPolice said.

Both kickers tried 12 field goals on Tuesday and will do 12 more on Wednesday in the team’s second and final practice of the week. Palardy, who has made seven of eight attempts, out-kicked Sakoda at the end of Tuesday’s workout.

BABY STEPS: Rookie slotback Terence Jeffers-Harris, who has missed six games with a high ankle sprain, ran a few sprints on Tuesday. He might resume practising next week and could play in B.C. on Oct. 2.

“He’s a guy who just takes a six-yard play and turns it into 60 yards,” LaPolice said, “so it would be good to have that guy back.”

CREAM OF THE CROP: Saskatchewan slotback Andy Fantuz was named the Gibson’s Finest offensive and Canadian player of the week for his 255 receiving yards in last Friday’s win over Calgary.

Toronto kick returner Chad Owens took the special teams honour for, among other things, his 80-yard punt return touchdown against Winnipeg, and Hamilton linebacker Markeith Knowlton got the defensive nod for three tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one interception and one knockdown in his team’s win over B.C.


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