Blue train still on rails

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:59 AM ET

WINNIPEG - They’ve lost four of five games, while watching their hold on first place disintegrate.

The No. 1 running back and the starting middle linebacker are lost for the season, the league-leading defence isn’t getting after the quarterback the way it used to and the passing attack is still the second-worst in the CFL.

To some, it might appear a once-promising Winnipeg Blue Bombers season has gone off the rails.

Not to quarterback Buck Pierce, who’s ready to reclaim his spot in the starting lineup in Hamilton this week after missing Friday’s game against Montreal.

“I’ve been on teams where we’ve fallen off the rails,” Pierce told the Sun, Tuesday. “It doesn’t feel like that. We believe in each other. We believe in what we’re doing. We’ve done a lot of good things this year. We’re not done.”

Ranked eighth in the CFL in passing efficiency, Pierce will do his talking on the field, Friday, returning from a case of bruised ribs to lead the 8-5 Bombers against the 7-6 Tiger-Cats in a tilt that will go a long way to determining playoff positions in the CFL East.

The 29-year-old says the week off did him some good.

In fact, Pierce, who returned to practice, Tuesday, says he feels better now than he did when he led the Bombers into Montreal immediately after the initial injury, three weeks ago.

Pierce earned CFL player-of-the-week honours in that game, completing 20 of 29 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns.

“I don’t know if you’re ever 100% at this point in the season, but I feel good,” he said. “My whole body feels better. A lot better.

“I felt I could (play) last week, too. But they wanted to give me a week without taking another big shot on it.”

Head coach Paul LaPolice wouldn’t commit to starting Pierce, yet, but that’s just coach-speak.

While Alex Brink nearly pulled out a victory in just his second career start, Friday, and has posted similar statistics to Pierce this season, the Bombers will ride the more experienced pivot as long as he’s healthy enough to play.

This game’s importance is not lost on the Bombers.

Even though they’ve already won the season series with the Ticats, Pierce says it’s a critical time of the year for a relatively young team.

“It’ll be concerning if we don’t pull ourselves up out of this,” he said. “You need to understand the situation right now. We are a young team, but we have to understand what the next few weeks is all about. We’ve done a great job this year putting ourselves in a situation to be successful at this time of the year.

“You can’t neglect what we’ve done. We’ve done a lot of work. And those games were hard to win. So we want to take advantage of that now, and just finish and close it out.”

The Bombers could all but clinch a playoff spot with a win in Hamilton, but their sights are set much higher.

“It’s another step closer for us to get where we want to get,” Pierce said. “And that’s first place.”


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