Winnipeg – The Blue bomber organization was shaken 24 hours before their big game with the B.C. Lions when the CFL announced that Bomber defensive back Bruce Johnson had been suspended for two games after testing positive for a banned substance named methylenedioxyamphetamine. Rather than being a performance enhancer, the substance in question is more readily linked to the drug ecstacy. The Bombers immediately issued a statement saying they were disappointed in Johnson and hoped he would learn from his mistake moving forward. Johnson also issued a statement in which he took full responsibility for his actions and apologized to his teammates, the football club and the Blue Bomber fans. The suspension means that Johnson can’t play the next two games but it is up to the Bombers whether they allow him to practice and attend team meetings.
Johnson is a 28-year product of the University of Miami who was in his third season with the Bombers. He has been a starter for nearly all of his time in Winnipeg although his play of late had tailed off and he was going to be replaced in the starting lineup by T.J. Heath for the game with the Lions.
What impact Johnson’s suspension will have on the Bombers is uncertain although it is certainly a jolt to a clubhouse that prides itself on character and integrity.
Saturday afternoon at Investors Group Field the Bombers will host the Lions in a game that is the first of back-to-back meetings between the teams, and that will largely determine if Winnipeg has a chance to catch second place in the West. Third place Winnipeg is 8-6, 2 points behind the 9-4 Lions and the math is self explanatory.
Lions come into Winnipeg on a roll. They have won 4 of their last 5 games and boast the number one running attack in the CFL along with the No. 1 ranked run defence. BC’s defence is also second ranked in the league in total yards allowed at 352 per game while Winnipeg’s is 9th and last giving up 407 yards per game. Bombers have lost their last two games and they are determined to tighten up on defence. They will have to do it without their leading tackler, Ian Wild, who will sit out after aggravating a shoulder injury in last weeks game against Edmonton. But the game will mark the return of Bomber running back Andrew Harris, who missed the last three games with an ankle injury. Both Harris and American Timothy Flanders will be on the active roster although Harris is expected to get most of the work at tailback. And, receiver and kick returner Quincy McDuffie also returns to Winnipeg’s lineup from injury.
Watching the action will be the newest Bomber, receiver Tori Gurley. Gurley arrived in Winnipeg on Friday, 4 days after being released by the Argos. Depending on the performance of the receiving corps against the Lions, Gurley could be in the lineup sooner rather than later.
Game time Saturday is 3pm, and the broadcast begins with Bob Irving and Doug Brown, joined live by Wally Buono, at 1pm.