Champion becomes greybeard of Blue pivots

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

WINNIPEG - The most experienced quarterback on the Winnipeg roster on Saturday will be the backup, despite participating in only one full practice with the Blue Bombers.

Zac Champion, who spent two seasons as a B.C. Lions understudy and attended training camp with the Calgary Stampeders, arrived in Winnipeg at 1 a.m. Thursday, practised in the deep freeze at Canad Inns Stadium at 11 a.m., then spent the rest of the day cramming the playbook to prepare to play against the Eskimos in Edmonton — where he will be the greybeard among Winnipeg pivots.

“That’s pretty crazy,” said Champion, 26. “Now, I’m the most experienced guy here whereas last year, I was the least experienced guy. So, it’s one of those things where you just have to go with it and see what happens. I’m here to help out.”

The Bombers actually sent an SOS to Champion last Saturday, suspecting that both QBs Steven Jyles and Alex Brink were done for the year, because they needed someone with CFL experience.

“It’s a good opportunity for him to come and get evaluated and be comfortable in our system,” said Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice. “That’s all we promised him.”

Champion, who was out of football at the time, was just happy to get the call.

“It’s one of those things, as long as you’re young, you always want another opportunity so, you’ve got to go with it when it calls,” said the 6-foot-2, 192-pound Louisiana Tech product.

Joey Elliott will start at QB. Justin Goltz, who just recently arrived, will make the trip as No. 3 while Frank Wilczynski will stay at home.

NOT TORN: Bomber OL Brendon LaBatte has suffered a sprained shoulder capsule, not a torn biceps as first feared. LaBatte will not play this weekend but could return to the lineup next week, LaPolice said.

Although the Bombers have plucked OL Matt Morencie off the Hamilton practice roster, the move has yet to become official so he will not play this Saturday. Morencie, who did not practise Thursday, is expected in town next week.

CHANGES: Both RB/KR Chris Garrett and DB Johnny Sears will play in Edmonton.


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