Burke thinks Bombers can be 'pretty competitive' | CFL.ca | Official Site of the Canadian Football League


WINNIPEG -- It's almost the dawn of a new CFL season, and once again the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are looking on the bright side after a rough 2012.

For one thing, they finally have a field to play on that won't draw jeers, a new one that was supposed to open last year.

"It's something that the club, the city and the CFL should be very proud of,'' general manager Joe Mack said Thursday of Investors Group Field.

The team even scheduled it's first four games on the road in 2012 to accommodate a promised late opening, but the pain brought no gain as construction delays ate up all hope.

After a snowy spring, Investors may be short a little landscaping perhaps, but Bomber president Garth Buchko said it would definitely be ready June 12 for the first exhibition game.

"Everything from a fan perspective will be virtually 100 per cent complete,'' he said, adding that they are nearing a new season ticket record of 24,000.

Related: Bombers off-season

» Bombers snag Mulumba in 1st round

» Garrett ready to reignite competition
» Bombers tasked with protecting Pierce

» Brink released; Hall, Clement signed
» Logan, Elliott released by Bombers
» Cauchy Muamba inks deal with Bombers
» Hefney earns contract extension
» Garrett, Volny re-up with Bombers
» Creehan returns to Bombers as DC

Quarterback Buck Pierce said the players are also blessed with up-to-date-training facilities and other perks at the 33,500-seat stadium, located on the grounds of the University of Manitoba.

"At the old place we maybe had one fridge, a microwave and a coffee pot that worked half the time,'' he said.

"Here we have everything that we need.''

Coach Tim Burke said except for a couple of holes on defence, the team is also in much better shape than it was for much of last season, particularly on offence.

The Bombers stumbled out of the gate and missed the playoffs, after making a Grey Cup appearance in 2011. It cost coach Paul LaPolice his job mid-season.

Offensive coordinator Gary Crowton now has a year of CFL football under his belt and Burke says that should lead to more production.

"I think we're in much better shape as a team than where we were when I took over as interim coach,'' said Burke.

During the off-season, the Bombers lost defensive end Jason Vega to the NFL and linebacker Marcellus Bowman to the Hamiton Tiger-Cats, who weren't put off by his knee surgery.

"Other than that, I feel pretty good defensively as far as the guys coming back,'' said Burke.

He feels Cauchy Muamba is an upgrade at free safety and can't say enough good things about his brother, linebacker Henoc Muamba. Mack added that he would be saying a rosary every day to try and keep the team healthy.

"I think if we can stay healthy we have a chance to be pretty competitive.''

Injuries played a major factor in the team's woes in 2012, not the least the concussion and other ailments that sidelined Pierce. Pierce is back as starter, with returning backup Justin Goltz and two new understudies, Max Hall and Chase Clement.

The Bombers did bring in another punter Thursday, Australian Tim Hutchison, making it four as camp nears, including Bomber veteran Mike Renaud.

"Competition is always a good thing, it brings out the best in everybody, and I think from there we'll get more consistency in our punting game,'' said Burke.

The Bombers tried out another kicker/punter last season but decided to stick with their duo of Renaud and Justin Palardy.

One of the newcomers this season trying to unseat Renaud is Brett Cameron, the son of Bomber hall-of-famer and current board member Bob Cameron.

Fan Comments
Ticking time bomb here .... they dumped their back up QBs that at least has some playing experience and have done nothing ot improve the O-Line. They have also lost key defensive pieces and will not be able to rely on D to keep the game close. Buck will not change his style of play and is fragile. I dont think any QB in the league has taken the blind side hits he has taken and without O-line improvement ther he will get knocked out again this season. Career over.
May 11, 2013 - 1:38pm
als rule
all fine and dandy BUT the QB position is still the 'peg's weakness due to pierce's injury history!!
May 09, 2013 - 10:46pm
Surprise, surprise!!! I have to agree! They should keep a CFL-experienced backup in h the fold as insurance!
May 11, 2013 - 4:17pm
This year will be a Buck or suck year for the BBs!!
May 09, 2013 - 6:11pm
Ron Murphy
Can't do worse than last year. Seriously the BB's could be quite the surprise this year (as long as Buck stays healthy). Number one job of the OL is PROTECT BUCK.
May 09, 2013 - 5:40pm