Blue Bombers ready for rematch with Lions?

- June 28th, 2012

VANCOUVER — Greetings from cloudy downtown Vancouver (insert Wet Coast joke here).

It was sunny when I arrived just before 8 a.m. (yes, that was a 5 a.m. wake-up call!) but spent much of the day inside the beautifully renovated B.C. Place this afternoon, watching the walk-through for both the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and B.C. Lions.

Plenty of story-lines going into this one, no doubt about that.

After dominating the discussion for much of the week, Geroy Simon’s pursuit of the CFL All-time receiving yards record (currently held by another former Blue Bomber, Milt Stegall) was definitely a hot topic.

Lions players were singing the praises, Simon himself was excellent and shared some stories about his time with the Blue Bombers as well, new Lions head coach Mike Benevides was sure it hasn’t been a distraction for his club either.

“If anything, the guys are tremendously supportive of Geroy and everybody is in his corner,” said Benevides. “Really, it’s a tremendous opportunity to be part of it and watch it happen. If anything, it just adds extra fuel to the fire and extra excitement to the night. The distraction is not there.”

The first question Benevides was asked was whether he had a 67-yard pass play in the game plan?

“We’ve got 68, we’re going to try and get right over it,” Benevides said during an expansive session. “What we’re going to do is go about our business and it will come. I joked to him that if he’s at 64 in the third quarter, I would sit him down for the rest of the game. But I won’t do that.”

Perhaps, Blue Bombers DB Jovon Johnson put it best:

“At the end of the day, whether or not the record is broken or not, it’s going to get broken this year,” said Johnson. “Geroy is a great player. He’s been tremendous throughout his career. Hopefully, he doesn’t break it against us but if he does, more power to him.”

Oh, and it wasn’t just the local media that was wondering if there was any significance to the Grey Cup finalists meeting for the first time since the Lions defeated the Blue Bombers 34-23 to capture the 99th league championship last November.

“For us, it’s not a revenge thing. It’s the first game on the schedule and what a way to open up,” said Johnson, singing from the hymn book authorized by the Blue Bombers’ coaching staff. “You’ve got to be motivated to play against anybody that you’re playing against. Going against a great B.C. offence, for our defence, that’s a challenge. We look forward to playing against (Travis) Lulay again.

“For us, it’s just the next game in the schedule. We know the threats that they pose, but we’ll be ready for it.”

That’s exactly what Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice is counting on.

“Yeah, it’s been a long off-season,” said LaPolice. “It’s exciting to get back to doing football and exciting to start playing games that matter.”

Week 1 is here and it won’t take long for the Blue and Gold to find out how they measure up.

“Our identity is yet to be determined,” said Johnson. “We’ll find out sooner than later. It’s going to be a good game and hopefully, we come out on top.”

If the Blue Bombers do find a way to come out on top, it will send a strong message to the rest of the CFL that they’re a lot better club than many have predicted.

If you’re wondering about coverage in the paper, Paul Friesen has a column column, while I’ve got a host of things on the go, a piece on the Bombers O-line, my 5 things the Bombers have to do piece, the weekly game-day page, a notebook, plus our weekly CFL picks are back.

Check it all out and provide your feedback.

I’ll have a piece on Winnipegger Andrew Harris in Saturday’s paper that talks about his first full season as the starting tailback for the Leos and his pursuit of a lofty (but attainable goal).

Speaking of predictions, we’ll get our annual CFL picks up on Friday morning.

And don’t forget to join Paul Friesen, Kirk Penton and I for our weekly Blue Bomber chat at www.winnipegsun.com at 2 pm CT on Friday afternoon.

Categories: Football

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