Blue Bombers set for second meeting with Alouettes (updated): emptying the notebook)

- August 2nd, 2012

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will attempt to do something they have yet to do this season on Friday night, when they welcome the Montreal Alouettes to Canad Inns Stadium.

If you guessed win consecutive games, then you’ve got a chance to win today’s showcase showdown.

Friday’s game is essentially a battle for third spot in the East Division standings and both teams recognize the importance of what’s at stake.

A win would propel the 1-4 Blue Bombers into a tie with the  2-3 Als at four points, while a loss would leave them four points behind the Als, with already two losses to their division rival.

“It’s a big game, both teams know that,” said Blue Bombers defensive back Jovon Johnson. “Going into the game, we’re very focused on where we would stand if the outcome is in our favour. Coach does a good job of educating us on those things, but it all comes down to what you do on the field and we understand that.”

“We need to just keep it going,” added Blue Bombers receiver Terrence Edwards. “We can’t play bad coming off a good win like we did against Edmonton. We have to go out and win and protect our home field. It’s what we call a four-point game. We get two points and they get none.

“The third thing is we’ve got to tie the season series up. This game is very important to us. We’ve got to get better, we can’t get worse and take steps back and be deflated going into the bye week. If we can get to 2-4, that’s a whole lot better than 1-5.”

The Blue Bombers have made a few alterations to their lineup for this week, the biggest move sees DT and sack leader Bryant Turner scratched because he’s heading to Mobile, Ala. to attend a funeral for a grandmother he was very close to.

“It hurts, obviously,” said Blue Bombers defensive coordinator Tim Burke. “He is probably our best pass-rusher at this point of the season. At the end of last season, he was our best pass rusher too. He’s a very good football player.”

Turner’s absence means that DT Brandon Collier (shoulder) has been activated from the one-game injured list and DE Kenny Mainor was taken off the 9-game injured list. Both will dress Friday, as will LB Marcellus Bowman and import RB Will Ford, who has looked good in practice and may get some looks in the backfield as well.

Coming off the 46-man roster were the three players released this week: LB Dustin Doe, DB Darrell Pasco and DE Rodney Fritz.

The Alouettes were dealing with a travel adventure on Thursday, with flight cancellations that was supposed to push their early afternoon arrival in River City to after 8 p.m., at last report.

The Blue Bombers were frank in saying they need to do a better job of containing Als RB Brandon Whitaker, who torched the defence in the last meeting in the running and receiving game.

Although the Als have lost two straight to fall to 2-3, the offence still ranks first in many statistical categories and is led by veteran QB Anthony Calvillo, who has passed for 300-plus yards in four consecutive games (two games shy of his own career high set back in 2004-05).

“They’ve got one of the best offences in the league and they’ve got a lot of good weapons,” said Blue Bombers linebacker Pierre-Luc Labbe. “They’ve got one of the best running backs in the league, who can do everything. That’s the main thing about Whitaker. He can run the ball, catch the ball, block — he’s real good at picking up blitzes.

“But we can’t just focus on him. They’ve got so many good receivers, they’re O-line is good and they’ve got probably the best quarterback of all time. It’s a big challenge for us. But we’re ready.”

And even though the Als defence is having some issues under new D-coordinator Jeff Reinebold, they remain formidable and could break out at any time.

Alex Brink is excited about a third consecutive start at QB and revealed at his press conference that his first name was actually David (Alex is his middle name).

One of the things Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice likes is that Brink’s attitude has remained the same since taking over from the injured Buck Pierce.

LaPolice confessed during his press conference that the team has been taking additional reps inside the red zone this week to try and improve their efficiency in that part of the field.

“That’s something we need to improve on, finishing drives with touchdowns,” said Brink. “We’re putting ourselves in a tough position at the end of games, having to rely on our defence to hold teams off because we’re not scoring sevens. In all of our games so far, if we score some touchdowns instead of kicking field goals, we’re a lot better than 1-4, that’s for sure. As an offence, we’ve preached that the red zone is an important part of our game-plan every week and we really need to focus on that. You’ve got to come up with the big play when you have it.”

“We lead the league in time of possession, not many people know that. We’re moving the ball, but something is coming into play at a time we don’t need it and it’s forced the drive to stop,” added Edwards. “If we can eliminate those mistakes, we’ll be able to move the ball and put up more points.”

Kickoff is 7:35 p.m. at Canad Inns Stadium on Friday night as the Blue Bombers attempt to record a 10th consecutive sellout (nine reg. season games and last year’s East Division final).

As of Thursday afternoon, fewer than 1,000 tickets were still available.

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