Pierce to start against Ticats

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:47 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Buck Pierce is officially back in the saddle.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback, who missed last week’s loss to the Montreal Alouettes due to bruised ribs, completed his second straight full practice Wednesday and will make his 52nd career start on Friday in Hamilton.

“He looked fine. He had a great practice today,” head coach Paul LaPolice said Wednesday. “I pointed out to the quarterbacks that he was a great leader today. He really had a good practice. It was like he missed not being in the game.”

Pierce has a 6-4 career mark as the quarterback of record against the Tiger-Cats.

GOING HOME: LaPolice picked the perfect place to throw Nick FitzGibbon into the Bomber lineup for the first time.

The 24-year-old Canadian running back grew up near Guelph, Ont., which is about 40 km north of Hamilton. Despite joining the Bomber practice roster last Tuesday, he’ll play on the kickoff and punt return teams on Friday.

“I’m very excited. It’s amazing,” FitzGibbon said. “I got here last week, and. within a week I was dressing. I can’t believe it.”

FitzGibbon had returned to his alma mater, the Guelph Gryphons, to help coach the team when he got the call from Winnipeg. He was on a plane within a few hours.

“I get here and I realize I forgot about half the stuff I needed, but it’s great because I’m going home,” said FitzGibbon, who is Guelph’s career rushing leader. “My mom has a little bag packed and everything.”

The Ivor Wynne stands are going to be packed with Fitz-Gibbon supporters — and some good-natured FitzGibbon hecklers, too.

“As soon as I got the official word that I was dressing, I told my parents and they told all their friends,” he said. “Unfortunately all my parents’ friends have season tickets to the Ticats, so they sit behind the visitors’ bench.

“I’ve been getting some e-mails and some texts. I might play with ear plugs. I don’t want to hear it.”

LATE HITS: LaPolice said special teams demon Johnny Sears will be in the lineup this week. He suffered a high ankle sprain in the second pre-season game and spent the first half of the season on the nine-game injured list. It’s perfect timing for the Bombers, who need some serious kick cover help … The Ticats are doing a promotion this week in which fans can vote for the team’s first passing and first rushing plays against the Bombers. “My vote would be an interception for a touchdown,” LaPolice deadpanned. “We’ll see how many people call in for that. Everybody in Winnipeg, call in.” … The Bombers and Safeway have teamed up to create the 2012 Coach Richard Harris Scholarships. Starting Wednesday, 350 tickets will be available at Safeway for both of Winnipeg’s remaining home games. They cost $30, and $7.25 from each ticket sold will go to a Football Manitoba trust fund for two scholarships that will be given to one student athlete from both the University of Manitoba Bisons player and the Winnipeg Rifles. Harris, the Bombers assistant head coach and defensive line coach, passed away in July … The Bombers can clinch a playoff spot with a win on Friday.


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