WINNIPEG — Buck Pierce isn’t sure if he’ll be ready to play this week.
Backup quarterback Alex Brink thinks he’ll be good to go if Pierce can’t.
Who will be Winnipeg’s starting quarterback is just one of the question marks the injury-riddled Blue Bombers (8-4) have as they prepare to host the Montreal Alouettes (7-5) in a first-place CFL showdown Friday.
“You just keep going, just go to work and figure it out,” Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice said after Tuesday’s practice.
“We’ve done that a couple times this year and we’ve won eight games, double what we won last year. Everybody has challenges so you just have to work through it.”
Seven Bombers were knocked out of last Saturday’s 25-24 loss to the Toronto Argonauts because of injuries, including starting running back Fred Reid and his backup Carl Volny. Both are done for the season with torn anterior cruciate ligaments.
Pierce left the game after re-aggravating bruised ribs in the first half. Brink dislocated the shoulder of his non-throwing arm in the fourth quarter.
Brink’s shoulder was reset during the game and he was taking most of the reps with the first-team offence on Tuesday, but Pierce didn’t practice.
Pierce injured his ribs Sept. 11 in a loss to Saskatchewan, but played the next game and was named CFL offensive player of the week in the win against Montreal.
He said the ribs were as sore as they were after the initial injury so he didn’t practise and will see how he feels Wednesday.
“There’s always a chance,” Pierce said when asked if he could play Friday.
“I wouldn’t rule anything out, for sure. It’s pretty sore today. We’ll continue to do what we do and (trainers will) work their magic and I’ll try to get back.”
LaPolice said he’ll wait to see how Pierce feels Wednesday, but he’d like to see him throw and move. However, he said the seven-year veteran could play with “minimal practice reps.”
Brink, who broke his collarbone late last season, said it was the first time he’s dislocated a shoulder.
“It didn’t bother me at all today,” he said. “Once it got reset and everything, I was lucky that there wasn’t really any extensive. And so I’m dealing with a little stiffness, but no pain.”
The second-year player said he’ll be ready to start or back up Pierce in Friday’s critical match.
“As a group, we’ve got to approach this as a game where we have to play our best, absolutely, because we do have some injuries,” Brink said.
“First place against Montreal is on the line and we know we’re going to get their best game.”
The Bombers also have third-string quarterback Justin Goltz, who went in and threw a touchdown in the Argo loss. Import pivot Brandon Summers was on the practice roster and import QB Adam Froman was brought in Tuesday.
The three other Bombers injured in the Argo game were defensive tackle Doug Brown (shoulder), offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte (neck) and defensive lineman Rodney Fritz (hamstring). All sat out Tuesday’s practice, as well as receiver Cory Watson (ankle), who should practise Wednesday.
Chris Garrett will start in place of Reid, who was unavailable for comment. Reid led the league in rushing last season and was in second place with 759 yards off 181 carries.
LaPolice said Reid’s explosive running and “tremendous” blocking abilities will be missed, plus he’s a hard worker who’s liked by his teammates.
“That’s going to be a big loss, but we think Chris Garrett when he played last year had some spark and he’s explosive and he’s quick.”
The Ohio University product joined the Bombers midway through last season, but was released in this year’s training camp and then signed again in September.
“Hes a good person to learn from,” Garrett said of Reid.
Garrett had 13 carries for 82 yards last season and is “very confident” he can go on the roster and not miss a beat.
With CFL teams allowed to expand practice rosters to 12 players from seven, the Bombers added Froman and six other players to their practice roster.
They included import receiver Kurt Adams, import defensive lineman Quentin Davie, import running back Bloi-Dei Dorzon, import linebacker Javon McKinnon, import defensive back Darrell Pasco and non-import running back Nick Fitzgibbon.
Bomber defensive back Jovon Johnson was named defensive player of the week after two interceptions against Toronto, including one for a 27-yard TD.
He called this week’s contest against the Alouettes “the biggest game of the year for us” and was looking forward to seeing how players respond to the team’s injury woes.
“A lot of guys have been held back from not having the opportunity because of the stars we have on this team,” Johnson said.
“They’re going to get their chance to showcase. Hopefully, they have success and the team has success as well.”