Bombers need 'stamp of approval'

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

WINNIPEG -- Kicking off the season with a pair of wins over Hamilton and Toronto was nice.

Beating the Calgary Stampeders, however, would take the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to a whole new level, according to Jovon Johnson.

“I definitely think beating Calgary would serve notice, because year in and year out they’re always one of the top teams in the West,” the Bomber cornerback and punt returner said. “They’re always going to be a great offence, and they have a physical and aggressive defence.

“If we go out and win the game against them, it will definitely serve notice throughout the league.”

The Bombers have a chance to improve to 3-0 for just the third time since 1965 when they entertain the Stampeders on Thursday night at Canad Inns Stadium. Calgary is 1-1 after a last-minute win over the B.C. Lions last week.

Winnipeg is off to a roaring start thanks to its stifling defence and some solid special teams play. Its offence, on the other hand, is averaging a league-worst 246 yards per game.

Quarterback Buck Pierce failed to generate more than 200 yards passing in either victory, and Fred Reid’s rushing average of 4.3 yards per carry is a full two yards shy of his career average.

History won’t be on Pierce’s side, either, on Thursday night, as he lost his last six meetings against the Stamps, including one post-season clash, when he was a member of the B.C. Lions.

“Their offence has always been high-powered, so we have to match that,” said Pierce, who hasn’t won three starts in a row in nearly three years. “We want to get Fred loose. We want to let him do his thing in open spaces, and if we can do that, that opens up our offence a lot. We want to get him a lot of touches.

“The more we give the ball to Fred, the more productive we are.”

Centre Obby Khan didn’t mince words when asked if the offence had to be a little better to run with a big dog like the Stamps.

“No, not a little bit more. We need to get the offence going a lot more,” Khan said. “Two touchdowns in two games is not very good. We gotta get Fred over 100 yards, we gotta get Buck protected better, and we gotta get some more passes.”

Bombers linebacker Clint Kent returns to the lineup after missing the first games of the season with an ankle injury, while Fernand Kashama and Kenny Mainor will take over for the injured Jason Vega at defensive end.

The Stamps will get three starters back in receiver Ken-Yon Rambo, guard Dimitri Tsoumpas and linebacker Malik Jackson.

If the Bombers can beat the Stamps with that trio back in the fold, it would only add to the victory’s validity.

“We’re getting to play a team that’s been a consistent winner in this league, a very talented football team,” Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice said. “Let’s step up to the challenge.”

LATE HITS: Calgary has won the last three meetings versus Winnipeg by a combined 14 points ... The ticket count topped 26,000 on Thursday afternoon ... Reid has one career 100-yard rushing game in five starts against the Stamps.


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