Keeping Bombers' Pierce healthy

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:25 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Making sure Buck Pierce stays upright and on the field is sure to be one of the most important jobs in the Canadian Football League this season.

The early indications are that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive line is up for the task and there’s plenty of optimism surrounding the group.

“We’re very physical and they’re smart and we’re not having a lot of assignment errors and things like that,” said Blue Bombers offensive line coach Pat DelMonaco, who is in his second season with the club. “They have high, lofty goals for themselves and the group is working well together as a unit. That’s what I like the most. Cohesive is a good word for it.”

Throughout training camp, DelMonaco is there to offer vocal encouragement and the odd kick in the pants, should the moment call for that.

“I tell them all the time, I’m out here for two hours and they’re going to get the best I can give them,” said DelMonaco. “I have to give them everything I have.”

One of the toughest battles in camp has import tackles Kelly Butler and Glenn January battling for the starting job at right tackle.

“Kelly started every game for us last season, he’s extremely durable and he’s played well for us,” said DelMonaco. “Glenn was doing very well last year at camp and he got hurt. The two of them are battling it out. We’ll let things sort out. Those are two very good players.”

Speaking of Pierce, Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice said Monday that the plan is to have his starting quarterback play more than a quarter in Thursday’s preseason tilt with the Toronto Argonauts before giving way to Joey Elliott and Alex Brink.

NUMBERS GAME: The Blue Bombers still have 71 players in camp but that number will shrink considerably when final cuts are made on Saturday.

That’s when the roster shrinks to 46, plus up to seven players on the practice roster.

With only one pre-season game left on the docket, the stakes are getting higher and the players recognize that.

“There’s urgency in each practice,” said LaPolice. “You’re not going to make the team off of one game and we set that tone early on. It’s going to be on a collective thing that you do daily. You can help yourself with what you do in a game, but we’ve been evaluating these guys from Day 1 on whether we think they can play at this level.”

WALKING WOUNDED: While the training room has been a busy place for much of training camp, Monday marked another day of progress as the walking wounded is decreasing slowly but surely.

Rookie linebacker Henoc Muamba (knee) is anxious to return but understands he can’t afford to re-aggravate an injury at this stage of the game.

“The good news is that it’s getting better each day,” said Muamba, the first overall selection in the CFL Canadian draft. “It definitely is frustrating, I want to be on the field.”

Receiver Aaron Hargreaves (ankle) and long snapper Chris Cvetkovic (calf) remain on the sidelines, while receiver Damian Sherman (hamstring) was back on the shelf after being on the field for a bit on Saturday.

Among those taking part in the workouts who had been sidelined previously were offensive tackle Glenn January (groin), receiver Greg Carr (hamstring) and fullback Scott McHenry.

Carr didn’t finish the workout but continues to make progress.

Camping out

Day 16

Three stars of the day

Defensive end Odell Willis was flying around the field, DB Johnny Sears continues to make plays in the secondary and WR Clarence Denmark is making a case to be kept around for opening day.

Catch of the day

Quarterback Buck Pierce connected on a beautiful 60-yard catch-and-run with Terrence Edwards, who snuck behind Jonathan Hefney and ran under a perfectly-thrown spiral and raced into the end zone.

Crunch of the day

Although physical contact is generally kept to a minimum during training camp, Hefney actually knocked down WR Alex Watson during one of the passing drills.

Quote of the day

“There’s urgency in each practice. You’re not going to make the team off of one game and we set that tone early on.”

— Blue Bombers coach Paul LaPolice

Tweet of the day

“Blessed with another day to grind and make my future better than my past.”

— Blue Bombers WR Greg Carr or @Carr_Show

Up next

The Blue Bombers will hold one final session on Tuesday, followed by a walkthrough on Wednesday before Thursday’s final pre-season game against the Toronto Argonauts. The game is set for 7 p.m. and can be seen live on TSN and heard on 680 CJOB.


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