WINNIPEG - Tim Burke stood on the edge of the practice field at precisely 11:10 a.m. on Sunday, jotting down the players who were late arriving and letting them know they had just earned their first fine of the season.
Those penalties were later rescinded because Burke learned an assistant coach let them out of a meeting late, but he said next time there will be fines no matter what the reason is for their tardiness.
“It’s amazing how they weren’t late during training camp, but now they’re late,” Burke said ruefully.
Burke laid down the law on the first day in an effort to eliminate any discipline problems before they begin.
“Everything is about attention to detail, and if you let it slide in one area it’s going to slide during a game,” Burke said. “You gotta do all the little things right. The margin of error in this league is so small. Between victory and defeat, if you let discipline slip anywhere it’s going to slip on the game field, too.”
The Bombers conducted their first practice since final cuts were made on Saturday. It was held on the field west of Investors Group Field because Taylor Swift’s crew was still packing up her belongings, and Burke was not happy with how it went.
“You didn’t hear me yelling? No, I wasn’t happy with it,” he said. “Our in-season practices are even more intense than the training camp ones. We take out all the breaks that we had during training camp and it just flows from one thing to another.
“Guys weren’t used to the pace and were sucking wind, so we had to get on them a little bit.”
Burke said the pace picked up a bit after the warning, “but it still wasn’t as good as what we need.”
Veteran slotback Terrence Edwards believes Burke has already made it crystal clear who the boss is this year.
“He’s preparing us real hard,” Edwards said. “He’s trying to make the practices so hard and so scattered that when you get in games it’s supposed to be easier. He’s really pushing us. He’s in our face. Every drill he’s telling people to run off the field, run on the field.
“So he’s really on us. It’s a little different than coach (Paul LaPolice’s) style. Coach Burke is really in your face with everybody. It doesn’t matter who you are.”