Buck Pierce's long journey

Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce (shown chatting with offensive co-ordinator Jamie Barresi) is...

Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce (shown chatting with offensive co-ordinator Jamie Barresi) is excited about getting out on the field and seeing what he can do with this year’s roster. He hasn’t played in a game since Labour Day 2010.

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:35 AM ET

WINNIPEG - You would think this is a moment Buck Pierce has thought about for a long time.

Finally coming back from the arduous rehabilitation process after another frustrating injury, Pierce likely used the thought of getting back to game action as motivation to get him through some of the workouts.

Yet as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers took another step closer to playing their final pre-season game against the Toronto Argonauts Thursday, the starting quarterback kept his emotions in check and shrugged off the suggestion that this game was bigger than most exhibition contests.

When asked about what it was going to be like to get back on the field in a game for the first time since Labour Day, when a freak elbow injury brought his 2010 campaign to a premature end, Pierce was his usual laid back self.

“You know, I’ve been doing this a long time now. I have been out awhile,” said Pierce, who was limited to five games in his first season with the Blue and Gold. “I’m sure that when game-day comes around, I’ll be excited.”

It was at this point in the conversation that Pierce’s eyes widened and his voice perked up.

“No matter how long you play or what level you’re at, game day, you always get that excited feeling in you again,” said Pierce.

Pierce, 29, has a checklist of things he’d like to get accomplished in what will be his final tune-up before the season opener against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on July 1.

“I’m hoping to get my feet wet a little. In the preseason, you always want to see a number of different situations, some tough situations, some second-and-longs, things in the game that hopefully prepare you for Week 1.

“For me, it’s just getting everybody in the right positions and be a good leader out there and a teacher as well. Mentally, be sharp. The physical stuff will come if you’re mentally focused and keyed in.”

Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice wasn’t putting too much stock into what some fans see as a momentous occasion.

“I don’t know if I’d say eager,” said LaPolice, who was quick to downplay the significance of taking the next step. “It’s good to get started and good to see the team again, not him specifically.”

If you read between the lines, LaPolice is hoping that having Pierce on the field will be a frequent/regular occurrence in 2011, thus he wasn’t about to jump for joy to see him appear for a quarter and change in a pre-season tilt.

Offensive coordinator Jamie Barresi is ready to see Pierce take the next step in the process.

“This has been a long time, it’s been since Labour Day since Buck has played under live fire,” said Barresi. “It’ll be a little bit of getting used to the speed again. That’ll be one thing for him to get used to and then just move the offence down the field, make some throws and go from there.”

Pierce’s teammates can’t wait to see him being centre.

“He’s a great leader and we’re excited to see him on the field,” said Blue Bombers defensive tackle Dorian Smith.

“That’s going to be great to see him out there,” added Blue Bombers receiver Cory Watson. “He’s looking good and I know he worked hard to get back from his injury. He’s going to be excited and I’m going to be excited to see him out there as well.”

Up close and personal

Buck Pierce

Position: Quarterback

Age: 29

Resides: Crescent City, Calif.

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 210 pounds

College: New Mexico State

Season: Seventh in CFL

— Signed as a free agent by Blue Bombers on Apr. 12 of 2010

— Started five games for Winnipeg in 2010

— Spent five previous seasons with B.C. Lions

— 2010 stats: 5GP, 80-for-120, 1,080 passing yards, 6TD, 4INT, 237 rushing yards, 2 rushing TD

— Lifetime CFL stats: 91GP, 772-for-1,181, 9,814 passing yards, 54TD, 35INT, 158 carries for 1,252 rushing yards and 11 rushing TD

— Started 42 games for New Mexico State University, completing 191 passes for 2.253 yards and 16 TD

Camping out

Day 17

Three stars of the day

DT Dorian Smith continues to push for work on defence but also showed his versatility at tight end during one of the goal-line packages, WR Jade Etienne showcased his speed and made some big catches and DB Leslie Majors made an important interception that he would have taken back for six points the other way.

Catch of the day

Hands down, this tip of the cap goes to Smith, who got open and hauled in a rare touchdown from quarterback Joey Elliott.

Quote of the day

“I’m sure I won’t even remember it’s on, but I will have to remember that my mom is going to be watching so I have to be careful.”

— Quarterback Buck Pierce on being mic’d up for Thursday’s game on TSN

Quote of the day II

“That would be fun if they decide to do it. I’ve never been a part of offence, I’m usually disrupting the offence. When the big boys score, everybody scores.”

— DT Dorian Smith when asked if he wants to play offence

Tweet of the day

“Speak positive when ppl are speaking negative.”

— RB Chris Garrett(@TheChrisGarrett)

Up next

The Blue Bombers will hold a walkthrough on Wednesday at Canad Inns Stadium before Thursday’s final preseason 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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