WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced Wednesday that Buck Pierce has been cleared to play by both team doctors and medical staff and will start Friday night in Toronto versus the Argonauts.
Pierce has started five games for the Bombers this season, completing 53 of 84 passes for 735 yards and recorded three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Pierce, who missed the last two games with a concussion, was given the green light to practice earlier in the week and took first-team team reps behind centre at practice Tuesday.
“I thought he looked pretty good (at practice),” head coach Tim Burke said Tuesday. “He’s just so smooth with the ball. I was pretty pleased with what I saw.”
“He threw some very nice passes out there today.”
The question now is whether or not Argos QB Ricky Ray will join him.
Ray has missed three games with his injury while running back Chad Kackert has been out two weeks with a rib injury. Both practiced Wednesday but Argos head coach Scott Milanovich said the players would be re-examined later in the day and the club wouldn’t know until Thursday’s walkthrough if either will suit up against Winnipeg.
“I’m optimistic he (Ray) is going to play,” Milanovich told reporters following Wednesday’s practice in Oakville, Ont. “It’s not official until he goes through the process and we expect to have a definitive answer (Thursday).
“I think Chad is going to be able to go. He needs to see the doctor but I’m very optimistic he’ll be going.”
Friday’s game will be the third meeting of the season between the two clubs, but if Pierce and Ray both play it would be their first head-to-head meeting this year.
Ray was 23-of-34 passing for 325 yards and three TDs in Toronto’s 25-22 home win over Winnipeg on July 18. Ray’s 37-yard scoring strike to Jason Barnes with 2:31 remaining earned the Argos the victory.
Alex Brink got the start for Winnipeg with Pierce nursing a foot injury. Brink went 9-of-34 passing for 185 yards and two interceptions in the contest.
Ray missed last month’s contest in Winnipeg with the knee injury. Backup Jarious Jackson stepped in and was 17-of-28 passing for 155 yards and a TD and added 51 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Pierce started for Winnipeg and was 8-of-13 passing for 120 yards with a TD and interception before exiting the game midway through the first half. Joey Elliott came on and finished 20-of-30 passing for 173 yards but had three interceptions.
If Ray plays, Milanovich said the veteran quarterback will don a knee brace that he’ll have to wear for the rest of the season.
Should Ray be unable to play, Jackson would make his fourth straight start.
“Jarious has been getting all the reps all week,” Milanovich said. “Certainly that (Ray being unable to play) wouldn’t be what we want to hear but if that’s the case we’ll adjust.
“I thought (Ray) looked good (in practice). I thought he came along well. It’s better to be safe than sorry and have him checked out . . . but I think things are going well.”