January relishes leadership role

Blue Bombers offensive lineman Glenn January during practice in Winnipeg, Man., July 3, 2012....

Blue Bombers offensive lineman Glenn January during practice in Winnipeg, Man., July 3, 2012. (CHRIS PROCAYLO/QMI Agency)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:04 AM ET

WINNIPEG - A media “scrum” that began with one notebook and a single pen slowly grew, until the reporters and cameras surrounding him outnumbered the players in the room.

“Holy pete, guys — where’s Buck Pierce?” Glenn January, squinting through the TV lights, wondered.

Yes, scrums like this are usually reserved for the quarterback, or maybe a hot running back or receiver.

But an O-lineman?

If the Blue Bomber hogs still have a pool going where they pay a cash penalty for each media interview, it was empty-wallet Wednesday for January.

This is what happens when you’re one of the few players with experience on a line that desperately craves it.

It’s what happens when that line caves in the season-opener, leaving the No. 1 quarterback on the trainer’s table with a passer rating (33.3) that looks more like the forecast high for the day.

Meet the saviour, Bomber nation. He certainly has the hair and beard for the job.

All he has to do now is put on his sandals and lead his 12 offensive disciples on a walk over water. Or at least stem the flow of defenders through the patchwork berm acting as the Bomber front five in B.C. last week.

If January, who missed Week 1 with a leg injury but proclaimed himself healed Wednesday, can single-handedly get everybody to block better, get the receivers to run better routes and Pierce to find them with accurate passes, the Winnipeg offence will be fine in Montreal, Friday.

“I just want him executing his job,” head coach Paul LaPolice said. “Don’t worry about anybody else’s job.”

Of course, an offensive tackle executing his job to perfection can’t make up for everything that ailed the attack last week.

But the 29-year-old January can bring something else to the table, something this young team is going to need like manna from heaven during a trying stretch that sees it play four straight on the road.

Leadership.

And a steadying voice when the mobs in the street are itching for a lynching.

“Listen, B.C. is a very talented group, no question about that,” January said. “When you look at the games across the league last week, there were a lot of teams that came out and didn’t produce the way they thought they were going to. You can’t pinpoint any one team from the East that really looked like a juggernaut.”

Across the table, another disciple who’s been there, done that, said amen.

“It’s not panic time,” receiver Terrence Edwards said. “Everybody’s asking all these questions about what happened. It’s not panic time. It’s Week 1. It’s the first game. Shoot. I can understand these questions at Week 10. But Week 1 is very premature.

“If this continues week by week, then yes. But we need to find something else to talk about.”

Trouble is that’s all we’ve got.

The only team that couldn’t even manage 200 yards of net offence wears gold with blue trim on the road.

The team with the shiny, new offence showed up with the toy but forgot the batteries.

“Out of the 12 offensive guys, we had six guys that played their first CFL game,” Edwards pointed out. “And we’re in the game with the champs.”

That they were, for three quarters.

And that’s the kind of veteran, reasoned thinking the young, deer-in-the-headlights Bombers probably need to hear right about now. And again when Montreal’s “exotic” blitzes, as January calls them, come flying at them, Friday.

Channeling his inner Dennis Green, if not his inner Jesus, January says the Bomber O-line will prove “we are who we think we are — and that’s a good young unit that has a lot to prove.”

Until then, they’ll have to deal with a doubting Thomas or two.

If on Friday January isn’t looking behind him and asking the same question he asked Wednesday — “Holy pete, guys, where’s Buck Pierce?” — he’ll probably have a few converts.


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