- Free Agency
THE CANADIAN PRESS
WINNIPEG — Winnipeg faces its toughest test of the early season with a game against the visiting Stampeders, but that doesn’t mean receiver Terrence Edwards is feeling intimidated.
“I think we have the talent to go out and trade punches with anybody,” Edwards said Wednesday, a day before his 2-0 Blue Bombers take on Calgary (1-1) at Canad Inns Stadium.
“We’ve just got to go out there and execute and play. I wouldn’t trade any of my guys for anybody else, so I have confidence in my whole offensive staff to go out and perform.”
The last time Winnipeg opened a season 2-0 was in 2003, when it started 4-0 and finished 11-7.
Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice said going 3-0 means only one thing.
“Six points,” LaPolice said. “We really have not talked too much about being 2-0. I don’t think that’s come out of my mouth all week to the players . . .
“We’re geared up to play Calgary. We’re getting to play a team that’s been a consistent winner in this league, a very talented football team.
“Let’s step up to the challenge and get two points. That’s pretty much the message.”
The Bombers have put up 46 points through their first two victories, but only scored one touchdown through the air and another along the ground. The offence is ranked last in the league in net offence, passing yards, first downs and completions.
Calgary has scored 70 points, including three thrown by quarterback Henry Burris and three by the run.
“Our) defence is doing a great job and we as offensive players love that they’re creating turnovers and putting us in great field position,” Edwards said.
“We know we’ve got to play better and we know we’ve got to put up points when they give us the ball in that situation.”
Winnipeg quarterback Buck Pierce is aiming for more production on Thursday. He’s completed 33-of-60 passes for 316 yards, compared to Burris’ 45-of-73 for 591 yards.
Pierce has been working with a receiving corps that only has two veterans in seven-year Edwards and Aaron Hargreaves, who’s starting in his fourth season only after rookie Kito Poblah was put on the nine-game injured list with a knee injury suffered in the first game.
The other pass catchers are sophomores Terence Jeffers-Harris and Cory Watson and rookie Clarence Denmark.
Calgary will field eight-year receiver Nik Lewis, seven-year slotback Ken-Yon Rambo, fourth-year wide receiver Romby Bryant and sophomore Johnny Forzani.
Both squads are solid at running back with Bomber Fred Reid leading the league in his fifth season (35 carries for 150 yards).
The Stamps feature eight-year tailback Joffrey Reynolds (20 carries for 98 yards).
Burris has also run six times for 78 yards.
“We’re facing a good team in Calgary,” Pierce said. “Their offence has always been high-powered.
“We’re going to have to match that and we’re going to have to sustain drives. We have to stay out and not make the mental mistakes that we did last week.”
Winnipeg has allowed 32 points against through two games, while Calgary has held its opponents to 38 points. Bomber defensive end Odell Willis is pumped to take on Burris and Co.
Winnipeg sacked Toronto quarterback Cleo Lemon seven times in last week’s 22-16 win, with Willis picking up two of them.
“We just have to slow down Henry Burris because he’s what makes their offence go,” said Willis, who has three sacks on the season, tied for tops in the league with teammate Doug Brown.
“If we can come out and frustrate him, we pretty much got their whole offence set down. Joffrey Reynolds is a good back, but you’ve still got to get the ball from the quarterback.”
Winnipeg’s changes this week include adding linebacker Clint Kent and defensive lineman Kenny Mainor. Out is defensive end Jason Vega and receiver Alex Watson.
Calgary is expected to add linebacker Malik Jackson, offensive lineman Dimitri Tsoumpas and defensive lineman Shawn Mayne. Coming off the roster is linebackers Karl McCartney and Daren Stone and defensive back Milt Collins.
Notes: The Bombers named Ossama AbouZeid as the team’s interim chief executive officer Wednesday. One of his main responsibilities is co-ordinating construction of the team’s new stadium, scheduled to open next year.