Jason Vegas Blue Bombers' bright spot

Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant is tackled by Blue Bombers defensive lineman Jason Vega at...

Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant is tackled by Blue Bombers defensive lineman Jason Vega at Canad Inns Stadium in Winnipeg, Man., Sept. 9, 2012. (FRED GREENSLADE/Reuters)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:57 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Warning: the following may contain what some readers consider to be positive material about the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Reader discretion is advised.

Jason Vega had never recorded the pass rusher’s ultimate hat trick before his Sunday breakthrough against the Riders.

The Blue Bombers defensive lineman had also never heard his coach take a loss upon himself the way Tim Burke has done since the annual heartbreaker called the Banjo Bowl.

Seeing Burke publicly acknowledge he blew it by not trying a field goal in the last minute certainly got Vega’s attention, the way Vega’s three sacks got everybody else’s.

“I was shocked that he would do that,” Vega said as the Bombers returned to practice, Tuesday. “Only because we had so many players that should have been held accountable for what they had done. Even as a defence we had made mistakes...

“It’s honourable. I haven’t had many coaches where they would actually say, ‘This is my fault, and it’s not my players’ fault.’ In that regard you guys should be talking about that.”

We have been. And still are.

But it’s probably time we start talking a bit more about the CFL’s latest defensive player of the week, too.

If the Bombers are, indeed, on the verge of another rebuilding job, Vega is the kind you build around, Grade A wheat to some of the chaff, a gifted athlete whose best asset might be between his shoulders.

“Jason’s one of the smarter guys we have on the team,” Burke said, and that’s apparent the first time you talk to the 25-year-old Massachusetts native.

What’s also apparent is a professonal, level-headed attitude that might not make for the best newspaper copy, but is a coach’s dream in a locker-room all too often cluttered with head cases and emotional wrecks.

To wit: while most of the Bombers were continuing their interview boycott of a certain columnist, Tuesday, Vega didn’t blink at a few questions.

For starters, I wondered about the light practice day, given Burke’s penchant for cracking the whip the first day back. Tuesday’s session was more Club Med than clubbing: no helmets or pads, little physical intensity and no gassers.

“We have a quick turnaround for our next game,” Vega explained. “Most of us played pretty hard in that game, and for us to get out here and start banging away again doesn’t necessarily do much for our bodies.”

I also wondered how down the Bombers are after having what was left of their post-season dreams ripped from their hands on the final play.

“We’re not,” Vega said. “It’s more of a thing for you guys to write about that we’re down than it is for us to be in that locker-room crying, or whatever it is you guys think we’re doing.”

Actually, there were tears in that room, Sunday, but why quibble with the player of the week?

As for that dashed playoff dream?

“We’re not worried about it,” Vega said. “We’re playing Calgary this week. We’ll get that win or loss, whatever it is, and then we’ll go from there.”

Like I said, mouthwatering copy it isn’t. But a coach will eat it up.

There’s an air of being a pro that exudes from Vega like steam from a head on a cold-weather episode of NFL Films.

Upping his season total to five quarterback takedowns, tied for the team lead, Vega’s play Sunday matched his demeanor and his intellect.

That’s not all it did.

“It certainly got some frustration out,” he said. “Like I’d said before, I hold myself to a pretty high standard, and coach does, too. So to finally get a couple out of the way and to have three, even better.

“It’s nice to be recognized by the CFL for my play. But it doesn’t translate into a win so it doesn’t really matter.”

Actually, it does.

Because in a season going darker by the week, you need the occasional bright spot.


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