Blue Bucking for trouble?

Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce. (QMI Agency)

Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce. (QMI Agency)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

It didn’t take long for Steven Jyles’ name to come up as the Blue Bombers opened their first day of their first mini-camp.

Of course, it was some slimeball media type (insert wink, here) who brought it up.

The affable Buck Pierce was asked, before he’d even broken a sweat, if things felt different without his backup from last season in the bullpen.

“I don’t think so,” Pierce said. “I prepared myself the same way I would if Brett Favre was here. I just go out there and try to get better.”

A grin, a few dozen passes and nearly two hours later, it was obvious things are different.

For starters, Pierce is it. The undisputed one. No training camp drama necessary.

Of course, Bomber fans would prefer there be no drama at all surrounding the pivot position in 2011.

The trouble is, Pierce and drama have been in a wrestling match for most of the guy’s career, with drama coming out on top, Pierce limping to the infirmary, all too often.

No, there’s no Brett Favre, here.

But never mind the NFL’s all-time ironman quarterback and his record of a gazillion straight games started. This No. 4 would settle for 18 consecutive games in the upright position.

The couple hundred loyalists who showed up at the U of M indoor soccer facility, Monday, must have been pleased at what they saw of the new-and-improved Pierce.

Though he’s been throwing 200 balls a week for a while, this was his first public exhibition, and all I can say is if Humpty Dumpty had had the same people putting him back together, that poem would have had a much different ending.

The ball coming from Pierce’s right arm resembled a laser, and the only challenge for receivers was the speed of the leather hitting their hands.

Of course, head coach Paul LaPolice had already seen what the rest of us were watching for the first time.

“He’s throwing tremendously,” the coach said. “Locating the football, accuracy, speed, anticipating — very well.”

All together now: But can he take a hit?

Last season it was a wonky knee, then a freaky dislocated elbow. Before that, as a member of the B.C. Lions, a concussion or three.

It would seem if any quarterback needs a dependable backup, it’s the one the Bombers have left rather exposed at the top of the depth chart (Joey Elliott and Alex Brink, feel free to take exception).

“They’ve showed a lot of faith in me,” Pierce said. “And I’ve promised them I’ll do anything I can to help us win.”

Including changing his workouts to increase his arm strength and range, improve his overall physique (he’s 10 lbs lighter) and improve his endurance as a scrambler.

Yes, you read that right. Pierce is still going to run with the ball. He was running naked bootlegs in practice.

“Everyone’s wondering how it’s going to be because it’s been talked about so much,” Pierce said of his elbow. “The people that really know me know how hard I work on a daily basis and they never think that I’m not going to come back from something. But I want to prove it to everybody as well.”

And perhaps prove that trading the upward-trending Jyles to Toronto was a sound decision by GM Joe Mack, who’s taking the biggest risk at this position since Cal Murphy acquired Matt Dunigan and backed him up with his own son-in-law, Slingin’ Sammy Garza.

“It gives me some confidence,” Pierce said. “I’m a confident individual as it is, but they believe in what I can do. I totally believe in what I can do.”

We caught a glimpse of it early last season.

And then it all went south in a blur of stretched ligaments and dislocated bones.

“Once I’m back, I’m ready to put a helmet on and go out there and do it again,” Pierce said.

Actually, that’s what everybody’s afraid of.

And why the name Steven Jyles might not be far from anybody’s lips for a while, yet.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.

Up next

Day 2, Blue Bomber Mini-Camp

— When: Today, 11 a.m. - 12:35 p.m.

— Where: Indoor soccer complex, 211 Chancellor Matheson Road (U of M)

— Who: Various quarterbacks, receivers, running backs, defensive backs, O-linemen.

— New Faces: WRs Timothy Brown, Bobby Guillory, Damian Sherman; DBs Chayce Elliott, Matthew Bucknor.

— Injured Day 1: WR Timothy Brown (ankle)


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