Injury bug bites Bombers big time

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:33 PM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have had it fairly easy so far.

A friendly schedule, some good breaks and few serious injuries have propelled the Blue and Gold to 8-4, which is the best record in the CFL with only the final third of the schedule left to play.

Now they're about to find out if they have the ability to overcome some real adversity.

The Bombers limped home from Saturday's 25-24 loss to the Toronto Argonauts -- their third setback in four games -- with seven injured players, including four starters and two backups who got promoted when the men in front of them went down.

The easy explanation for Saturday's setback was the loss of quarterbacks Buck Pierce and Alex Brink, running backs Fred Reid and Carl Volny, defensive tackles Doug Brown and Rodney Fritz, and left guard Brendon LaBatte.

Head coach Paul LaPolice would have none of that talk.

"We had four turnovers. They all happened before the injuries," LaPolice said Sunday. "We got beat on a blocked punt. The guy got beat man to man. He wasn't an injured guy.

"We made too mistakes. We should have won that game even with all the injuries."

If that's really the case and not just "coach speak" to keep his players hungry, then it means the Bombers are in serious trouble heading into their first-place showdown with the Montreal Alouettes on Friday night at Canad Inns Stadium. If it's true the Bombers didn't lose the game because of injuries, then the fact they've lost three of their last four games to teams with a combined record of 5-23 is not good.

Throw in the possibility Pierce, Reid, LaBatte and Brown could all be on the sidelines Friday night against the Alouettes, and there's no reason to expect the Bombers and Alouettes won't be tied atop the East with 8-5 records on Saturday morning.

Pierce, who aggravated his rib injury on a tackle by Kevin Huntley in the second quarter, looked like someone was stabbing him every time he took a step on Sunday.

"I'm sore. I've been sore for a few weeks," Pierce said. -¦ It's hard to move. If I would've stayed in I would've been a sitting duck and I wouldn't have been able to do everything that I need to do."

Pierce, as he said two weeks ago, needs to practise if he's going to play on Friday.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't (want to play no matter what), but I need to get a good week of work in and be able to go play," Pierce said. "That's the reality of it. If it was just rest for five days, wake up game day and then go, that's different.

"I have to be able to perform during the week and prepare myself. We'll see how that goes."

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