How will Blue Bombers contain Burris?

- August 16th, 2012

The story-lines are seemingly endless as the 1-5 Winnipeg Blue Bombers return from the bye week to face the 3-3 Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Thursday at Canad Inns Stadium.

Quarterback Joey Elliott will be getting plenty of attention as he makes his first start for the Blue Bombers in nearly two years and rightfully so. The masses wanted to see the third-year pivot and now they’ll get their chance.

It’s important to not rush to judgement here as it takes time to establish yourself at such an important position, but what type of effort Elliott puts forth could impact how big a role he plays in the offence moving forward this season and beyond.

Speaking of quarterbacks, how will the Blue Bombers fare against Henry Burris on Thursday?

That’s the big question for a team trying to locate its identity.

Burris is off to a fantastic start, with 16 TDs to go against just 4 INTs and has already thrown for more than 1,800 yards.

“I feel young and I feel great,” said Burris. “I’m able to get out and do things that some of the young quarterbacks can’t do. And I’m proud to say that — as a 37-year-old elder statesman, you could call it. Being in a new place has really rejuvenated my career. Having all this young talent come together, with Coach Cortez and the staff, has been a lot of fun and I’m really enjoying it.

“You know how it is with the quarterback. You can go from the great to the goat in one game. My thing is, you can’t really leave a message unless we achieve the No. 1 goal that everyone is trying to achieve across the league and that’s winning a championship. We have the talent in this room to get it done and really for me, I just don’t worry about what everybody else says. The numbers speak for themselves and the wins and losses speak for themselves. To me, I know for my own journey, my career won’t be satisfied unless I get another championship.”

The Blue Bombers recognize Burris’ strengths and say they’re up for the challenge of facing the Ticats and all the speed they possess.

“I’m expecting them to be a big-play offence, that’s what they kind of live on,” said Blue Bombers linebacker Marcellus Bowman. “We have to get (Burris) off his game early. We don’t want that man to get hot. He’s too experienced, to give him any kind of breathing room. We have to get to him pretty quickly, get him off his game. Hit him if we have to. Whatever we have to do to make sure he doesn’t get a rhythm going. If he does, then he’s a dangerous person.”

The Blue Bombers also recognize that Burris can make plays with both his arm and his legs.

“He brings veteran leadership, an ability to move around the pocket, but he’s a wise guy in the pocket,” said Blue Bombers defensive end Jason Vega. “He’s going to hold onto the ball, make sure he’s going to get away from the rush but he’s  still looking downfield to make the throw. For us, we need to wrap up on him when we have the opportunity and when he does run, try to track him down.”

Here are some other notes that came out of Wednesday’s walk-through and media sessions:

* The Blue Bombers are thrilled to get S Ian Logan and DB Alex Suber back in the secondary. With the exception of LB Brandon Stewart, the entire starting defence is in place, at least for the time being. And it’s time for them to show exactly what they’re made of.

* Henoc Muamba is in at MLB for Pierre-Luc Labbe and he’ll face a big challenge in trying to keep up with RB Chevon Walker, who is one of the fastest players in the CFL. This match-up is sure to be under the spotlight, given the struggles the Blue Bombers D has had with some prominent backs so far, namely Brandon Whitaker of the Als.

* Special-teams demon James Green will make his 2012 debut, after just four practices. Green, who was cut after suffering a broken foot in the off-season, is familiar with the Blue Bombers systems, so it’s simply a matter of conditioning and shaking off the rust for him.

* As far as roster goes, on the 46-man are Logan, Suber and Green, while S Brady Browne moved to 9-game injured list, DT JT Gilmore (one-game with calf problem), RB Nathan Riva (one-game with hamstring injury).

* Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice didn’t like the line of questioning regarding whether or not his job could be in jeopardy, citing too much doom and gloom on the side of the media. He said his focus was solely on trying to win a football game and that there was plenty of football left to be played.

* No Andy Fantuz to contend with is a break for the Blue Bombers, but the Ticats air attack still contains several threats, headlined by Chris Williams and former NFLer Sam Giguere. Veteran Dave Stala might be a little more involved this week as well.

* Ticats head coach George Cortez is familiar with Blue Bombers RB Chad Simpson from his NFL days and has plenty of respect for him: “I know Chad. He was with the Bills when I was first with the Bills and Chad is a good running back, there’s no doubt about that,” said Cortez.

* Speaking of Cortez, he took exception to the line of questioning that revolved around the Ticats struggles against the run game, cutting off a questioner at the pass before offering: “Good running backs have pretty much given everybody trouble this season.” That much is true, but the Ticats are worst in the CFL against the run so expect Simpson to hear his number called with regularity throughout the game, especially in the first quarter, where the Blue Bombers struggles are well-documented.

* Cortez offered a rather flippant answer to a question about how the Ticats planned to try and contain Simpson:

“I hope we tackle him when he has the ball.”

* One of the other interesting battles within the battle features the Blue Bombers offence going up against Ticats defensive co-ordinator Casey Creehan, who spent two seasons with the Blue and Gold before joining the staff of Cortez, who had this to say when asked about Creehan:

“Casey has brought a lot of enthusiasm and is extremely well-prepared. He’s demanding of players.”

I asked LaPolice about seeing a member of his coaching tree getting a promotion and here’s what he said:

“I’m sure he’s going to try and rush the passer with a four-man rush,.” said LaPolice. “He plays more zone than man. He’s going to play some man coverage to try to stop the run and make it difficult to throw the ball. They’ll be coming.

“I was happy to have Casey here for a couple of years. He’s a good young coach. It’s great to see guys continue to move on and get opportunities.”

Several Blue Bombers were excited about facing Creehan, including veteran receiver Terrence Edwards.

“It’s fun. He’s watched a lot of the guys here day-in and day-out. He knows the things we do well and the things we don’t do well. We’ve got to go out there and give him something different. It’s fun to see the chess match that is going to be played. Whoever makes the most plays is going to come out on top.”

The clock is ticking and it won’t take much longer to find out who’s going to come out on top.

My prediction is Ticats 27 Blue Bombers 21.

Who are you taking and why?

Categories: Football

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