Winnipeg – Their receiving corps is decimated, a week after their secondary suffered the same fate, but most of the talk in Winnipeg Blue Bomber camp leading up to Wednesday’s home game against Hamilton was about the clubs new aggressive attitude. Following last weeks 30-23 win in Edmonton, head coach Mike O’Shea showed the players a hilite reel of roughly 20 plays in which the Bombers made big hits against the Eskimos. Quarterback Matt Nichols says it’s all about establishing a team trademark.
“Last week we feel like we established an identity. We don’t want to start games on our heels. We showed that we are going to come out and hit people and make plays. Some times teams are finesse teams or big play teams or chaos teams. For us we felt like we did a lot of good things in all three phases where we were very aggressive, hitting people, taking it to them rather than sitting back on our heels, and hoping good things happen. We were assertive on all three fronts and I think moving forward we’re going to try to get that out of our guys every week” said Nichols. He added “I feel like I’ve always had to play that way, sometimes that’s a good way to play, trying to prove doubters wrong or along those lines. We feel like we have a good team and a team that an go out and play with the best in the league and we are out to prove that to everyone.”
Nichols and the Blue Bomber offence will certainly face a major challenge against the Ticats, a group that defensively prides itself as one of the nastiest in the league. Never mind that Hamilton has arguably the best defensive dozen in the CFL, the Bombers will field a depleted receiving group minus Darvin Adams, Weston Dressler and Ryan Smith.
Smith was already on the sidelines and after Dressler and Adams went down in last weeks game, the Bombers called veteran Clarence Denmark at his home in Florida where he happened to be watching the Bomber-Edmonton game on ESPN. Denmark was asked if he was in shape and willing to return to the Blue and Gold and he said yes to both questions as quickly as he could and was on the next plane back to the city where he spent his entire five year career. The Bombers released Denmark last winter in what was purely a business move after spending a bundle of money in free agency. The 30-year old is just two years removed from a 1,000 yard season and says he is in game shape and ready to make a contribution to the team. The Bombers have also activated Kris Adams, a 28-year old rookie who will make his CFL debut, along with Thomas Mayo, who comes back on the roster in place of Gerrard Sheppard. Second year Canadian receiver Addison Richards also comes off the 6-game injured list to serve in a backup role.
The Bombers defeated Hamilton 28-24 a month ago in Hamilton, a game that saw the Ticats turn the ball over 6 times and that also saw Drew Willy play his best game of the season at quarterback for the Bombers. Willy is now the backup to Nichols, who says the Ticats present a lot of different crazy looks on defence. Hamilton will once again go with Jeremiah Masoli at quarterback as they wait for Zach Collaros to be fully recovered from the ACL injury that ended his 2015 season.
One of the hilites of the Wednesday night game will be the halftime ceremony when all-time great Milt Stegall has his number 85 added to the Bombers newly developed Ring of Honor.