The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will play one of those games on Saturday that all teams hate to play.
Other than the fact that Week 19’s clash with the Montreal Alouettes will be the final game at Canad Inns Stadium, motivation will be a hard thing to find, as unlike last season, the Bombers have no post-season game to prepare for or look forward to.
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“Early in the year he was just a little bit slow in his decision making. He knows where to go with the ball, it was just not happening as fast as he’d like it too.”
– Tim Burke on Alex Brink
But for at least one Blue Bomber, it represents another chance to stake a claim for 2013.
Because of injuries to Buck Pierce and Joey Elliott suffered during last week’s loss to the Tiger-Cats, one that officially knocked them out of playoff contention, third-year quarterback Alex Brink will make his first start since early August.
Brink initially took over as the starter when Pierce was injured in the third game of the season. After three starts, then head coach Paul LaPolice decided Brink wasn’t being productive enough and made the switch to Elliott.
Brink didn’t try to hide his disappointment, and to some degree, he showed anger over the decision, feeling he had played well enough to remain the starter.
To his credit, he kept his head up, maintained a good attitude and embraced his role as the third down, short-yardage specialist.
And now, Brink will be rewarded with a start in the final game of the season and a chance to show Tim Burke, who will be the head coach next season, that he deserves consideration when the Bombers sort through their quarterback options during the off-season.
“I’ve only had five starts in my career, but I feel I can learn and grow from this pending opportunity,” said Brink.
“What I have learned is that, as a quarterback, there are going to be highs and lows and through those situations you have to maintain a pretty even keel. If you ever get too low, based on what everybody else is saying, you’re never going to be able to succeed because you are always climbing out of a hole that is probably really ficticious in nature,” he added.
“People on the outside don’t really have the same perspective that you do. For me, a lot of it was circling the wagons, and understanding that I had a lot of confidence in myself. I just had to stick to my guns. What happened in the past had to be put behind me because I was going to play again, and that opportunity has come this week.”
Brink signed with the Bombers in May of 2010 and played sparingly in his rookie season, throwing only 45 passes. In 2011, he saw a little more action and posted respectable numbers, completing 89 of 140 passes for 1,023 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions.
Brink beat out Elliott for the backup spot with the Bombers at the start of this season, only to have Elliott take over when the Bombers slipped to 1-5 after Brink’s third start.
The string of injuries that have haunted Pierce in his career, Elliott’s uneven play and Brink’s failure to deliver with the opportunities he got early in the season have left a massive question mark over the Bombers quarterback situation for next year.
Saturday’s game with Montreal may be meaningless, but for Alex Brink it’s one final chance to make a favorable impression in 2012 and perhaps convince the Blue Bomber football department that he has what it takes to be the answer at quarterback in 2013.