WINNIPEG — Fred Reid and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers want to halt another dubious streak Friday night when they host the Toronto Argonauts.
Last week, the Bombers (1-0) rallied to beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 24-16 for their first road victory since October 2009. Winnipeg now faces a Toronto team that beat it in all three meetings last season plus this year’s preseason game.
But Reid said getting the win won’t come easily.
“A dogfight,” Reid said Thursday when asked what type of game he expected. “They had our number last year.
“We’re just going to come out and play our game. If we do that and hit on all cylinders, we believe we can come out of this game successful.”
Toronto (1-0) is also coming off a notable road victory.
The Argos beat the Calgary Stampeders 23-21 on Noel Prefontaine’s late 43-yard field goal for their first win at McMahon Stadium since July 2005. Tailback Cory Boyd said while some people may have been surprised by the victory, he and his teammates weren’t.
“We knew what we had in that locker room,” he said. “We stepped into camp the first day and knew we had something special.”
Boyd and Reid are expected to both play key roles in Friday’s game. Reid was the CFL’s rushing leader last season with 1,396 yards, 37 more than runner-up Boyd.
But that’s of no importance to Boyd, who when asked what his goal was for this season simply replied, “Grey Cup.”
Ditto about winning the rushing title.
“Grey Cup,” he answered.
Surely there’s a competition between he and Reid?
“Not really,” Boyd said. “We both are key components in our offence and we’ve got to go out there and play.
“Anything else other than that, I leave that to the media and the fans.”
Reid may get more touches Friday as the Bombers receiving corps could be minus two starters. Rookie Kito Poblah definitely won’t play – he was placed on the nine-game injured list after suffering a knee injury against Hamilton. But Greg Carr (hamstring) will be a game-time decision.
Four-year veteran Aaron Hargreaves takes Poblah’s spot and rookie Clarence Denmark will fill in if Carr can’t go.
Veteran slotback Terrence Edwards said an arm injury that limited his practice time this week won’t keep him out of the game but head coach Paul LaPolice said he’d also be a game-time decision.
“I’m not 100 per cent, but I’m well enough to go out there and help this team win,” said Edwards, who was second in the league for receiving yards (1,372) last season. “I told the coach that and he’s allowing me to play.”
Edwards has been studying Toronto’s defence and knows the Argos present a tough challenge for Winnipeg’s offence.
“Their defence is the top of the league, in my opinion,” Edwards said.
Toronto defensive tackle Kevin Huntley said it’s early to begin rating the unit but added his teammates don’t mind trying to live up to such expectations.
“When people decide they want to put the crown on you, you’ve got to perform,” Huntley said. “That also goes back to being prepared.
“Being a dominant defence is more or less being prepared, not necessarily about physical skills.”
Toronto’s defence will be minus middle linebacker Jason Pottinger (knee). Tristan Black, who filled in admirably for Pottinger against Calgary, is expected to split time there with E.J. Kuale while newcomer Anthony Cannon will rotate in at times as well.
Regardless of who lines up in the middle, Huntley said a priority will be limiting Reid’s gains.
“He’s a great running back,” Huntley said. “He’s always our focus no matter whatever receivers they have, whatever the gameplan is.”
Winnipeg’s defence was no slouch last week against Hamilton, registering four interceptions. Safety Ian Logan had two of them while linebacker Joe Lobendahn and Alex Suber added the others.
Suber’s was particularly big because he returned it 66 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter that gave the Bombers the lead for good. Lobendahn’s pick was the first of his four-year CFL career.
“I missed a couple, but I redeemed myself taking a ball away from a receiver,” he said.
However, Lobendahn said Winnipeg’s defence isn’t resting on its laurels.
“The thing is, that was last week,” he said. “This is a new week.
“Defensive co-ordinator Tim) Burke called a great game and we were just there in the right position to make a play.”
However, the defence is aiming to stifle Boyd.
“If we stop the run, we make them one-dimensional,” Lobendahn said. “That’s our goal – to just kind of stop him and not have him rush for so many yards.”
Boyd ran 17 times for 100 yards and one touchdown against Calgary. Reid had 16 carries for 87 yards in the Hamilton win.
NOTES – Friday’s game will honour this year’s inductees into the Blue Bombers Hall of Fame: former players Troy Westwood and Wade Miller and builders Ted Bartman and Bruce Robinson (posthumously).