Bombers head coach Tim Burke concerned after poor performance in ugly loss to Argos to open pre-season

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce (4) and teammates stand for the anthem during the...

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce (4) and teammates stand for the anthem during the first game at Investors Group Field in a CFL pre-season game against the Toronto Argonauts in Winnipeg, June 12, 2013. (REUTERS/Fred Greenslade)

Paul Friesen, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:46 PM ET

Sure, it was only a pre-season game.

But that doesn’t mean Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke isn’t concerned after reviewing the film from Wednesday’s 24-6 loss to the Toronto Argonauts.

The alarming thing for Burke is how Toronto’s second-stringers outplayed his own starters.

“It is a little bit disconcerting that happened,” Burke said, Thursday. “That’s what I told the guys, that was the disconcerting part, that we didn’t show better against their backups.

“I thought we would perform better than we did. The first group is what I’m talking about. I don’t know (why), yet.”

Burke didn’t like the way the Argos ran the ball against his starting defence, pointing to the linebackers.

“We don’t have a lot of depth there right now,” he said, referring to the absence of injured middle linebacker Henoc Muamba. “Fatigue probably played into that a little bit. I didn’t think we were assignment-sharp early. That’s disappointing.”

The coach was happier with his starting secondary, despite the fact it gave up two significant gains.

Among the new faces Burke singled out for praise were D-linemen Freddie Harris and Marquis Frazier, the latter of whom had a sack, and linebacker Wendell Brown.

The newcomers in the secondary showed flashes, Marty Markett among those pushing for full-time work.

“If he can put it all together here the last part of training camp he’s got a chance to make it,” Burke said.

His next chance comes against Hamilton, in Guelph, next week.

Burke plans to take 51 players, but not until he makes a few cuts later this week.

YOUR TURN: After seeming limited action, Wednesday, backup quarterback Justin Goltz will get the entire first half against the Tiger-Cats.

Goltz was in for much of the third quarter, Wednesday, but threw just two passes.

“Defensively we couldn’t get off the field,” Burke said. “They had a five-minute drive at the beginning of the quarter and then they had a long drive at the end of the quarter. That’s tough for Justin.”

THE OLD BUCK: Burke wasn’t thrilled with the way starter Buck Pierce took off with the ball, and took a hit, on the first play.

“I wish he would have slid,” the coach said. “You guys know that’s Buck. He’s a competitor. And for years that was a big part of his game. But he could have ducked it upfield earlier and then slid, instead of taking it out on the perimeter so far.”

Pierce took another hit on a blitz that a receiver didn’t recognize.

“Everybody’s got to see the same thing,” Burke said. “If there’s a hot receiver, he’s got to see the blitz and run his hot route and the quarterback’s got to see it, and if one of them doesn’t then it’s a bad play.”

ALL BUT A LOCK: Punter Mike Renaud all but nailed down his job, Wednesday.

Renaud has been fending off competition from three kickers.

“He’s pretty close to solidifying it,” Burke said.

STILL IN IT: Homegrown receiver Brett Carter didn’t hurt his cause, making two catches and keeping his Cinderella story alive.

“The first one was a little nerve-wracking,” Carter said. “But after you get the first catch and the first hit out of the way, it’s pretty good.”

Burke confirmed Carter, a 20-year-old who played with the junior Winnipeg Rifles the last two years, is still in the running for a roster spot.

“He went out there and competed — he got drilled one time pretty good, got up and kept playing,” the coach said.


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