Pierce will be ready for final

Bombers QB Buck Pierce missed the final game of the regular season, but says he will be ready to...

Bombers QB Buck Pierce missed the final game of the regular season, but says he will be ready to play at home in the East final. (Chris Procaylo/QMI Agency)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:44 PM ET

WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Blue Bombers probably did more than claim first place in the CFL East on the weekend.

The reeling Bombers may have also ensured they’ll have No. 1 quarterback Buck Pierce available to open the playoffs.

Pierce, recovering from a right knee sprain that left him sidelined for the final regular season game in Calgary, Saturday, says the first-place bye into the Nov. 20 Final is exactly what the doctor ordered.

“It’s getting better,” Pierce said, Monday. “And it’s better than it was last week. The week off helped. This next week off is going to help tremendously as well.”

While remaining coy about the exact status of his knee — “I don’t want to really describe what I can and can’t do right now” — Pierce said there was “no question” in his mind he’ll be ready.

In fact, he was planning to play even if the Bombers were relegated to second place, forcing them to host the East semifinal, next Sunday.

“Whenever the next game would have been, I was preparing for that,” Pierce said. “I’m glad we have another week, obviously, to prepare. Things are on schedule.”

As is customary, head coach Paul LaPolice was less eager to anoint Pierce his playoff starter, saying he wanted to see his quarterback in practice, first.

Winnipeg’s schedule is decidedly soft over the next week, thanks to Montreal’s blowout loss in B.C., which allowed the Bombers to claim first despite losing seven of their last 10 games.

The players didn’t practise Monday, and won’t Tuesday. Wednesday they’ll watch film, with their first practice scheduled for Thursday, indoors at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex.

After that, the players get four days off to do and go as they please, with practice resuming next Tuesday.

LaPolice says he wants to see Pierce on the field Day 1, next week.

“He’ll be day-to-day until we see how well he can move around,” the coach said. “I won’t make that decision until I see him on the field.”

LaPolice says he can start putting the game plan together regardless of who’ll play quarterback, since his strategy doesn’t change much with Alex Brink at the controls.

Brink, in just the third start of his career, completed 22 of 33 passes against Calgary, but produced just 202 yards through the air. He’s lost both his starts this season, while producing one come-from-behind win, with an overall 1-3 mark as the quarterback of record.

By comparison, Pierce is 9-4 as the quarterback of record.

Pierce didn’t make the trip to Calgary, instead watching the game on TV, which sounded as painful as his injury.

“It’s frustrating. I was with those guys all 17 games up to that point. Not being able to be on the road with them in a critical matchup like that at this time of the year, it’s tough. The only thing I can do to help myself stay positive is look at the greater goal, and that’s in a few weeks.”

As for his team’s wobbly entry into the post-season, the quarterback did his best to put a positive spin on the situation.

“We didn’t make it easy on ourselves, by any means,” Pierce said. “But we did a great job this year. We won the season series against everybody and put ourselves in this position. Obviously we’ve lost games that we shouldn’t have lost. But those things are going to happen. We’re excited about the position we’re in. It’s an achievement we should be proud of.”

It’s the Bombers’ first division title in 10 years, the first time they’ve finished better than .500 in four years and first time in the playoffs since 2008.


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