Setting the Stage in Ottawa
OTTAWA – The Winnipeg Blue Bombers touched down in the nation’s capital Thursday afternoon minus a big piece – a Biggie piece – of their defensive dozen.
Middle linebacker Adam Bighill has been scratched from the lineup for Friday’s game against the REDBLACKS and moved to the one-game injured list, meaning he will not be in the lineup in the battle of two unbeaten clubs.
“He practised Day 3 (Wednesday) and as we went through it, he was able to run around out there… it’s just probably the best decision to give him a little more time,” O’Shea told reporters during a media availability at TD Place Stadium on Thursday. “He probably didn’t have that final gear that he probably needs.”
Kyrie Wilson will move over to the middle to fill in for Bighill, with Jesse Briggs now slated to start at the weak-side spot. As well, linebacker Nick Temple has been activated from the practice roster to provide even more depth.
“They’ve switched around in training camp enough,” said O’Shea of Wilson replacing Bighill. “There are a lot of similarities between the two positions and they’ve got to know what each other is doing all the time anyway, so I don’t see it as a tough call for Kyrie to move over one.”
O’Shea has long been a big fan of Briggs, too, and the 29-year-old McGill product will unofficially make the first start of his CFL career.
“Right from his rookie year he’s as smart as they come,” said O’Shea. “He sees it or hears it once and he knows it. He’s extremely fast, he’s strong, he’s a very good football player. He’s probably deserved more of an opportunity over his last bunch of years than we’ve given him.
“Now, Nick Temple jumps on the roster and he can go in and play, too. I’m sure there will be packages where they’ll be moving around.”
Asked what makes him comfortable that the Bombers will be able to withstand the loss of Bighill Friday, defensive end Willie Jefferson offered this:
“Everybody on this defence has been working hard to this point. Everybody on this defence knows this defence and the guy that’s taking the spot for Bighill knows it’s next man up.
“We are a defence, so we don’t want him to feel like he has to take a big step forward. He’s just taking a step up to play his spot. We play as a team. We’re going to come together and do what we’ve been doing for the last two weeks.”
The Bombers and REDBLACKS will line up for an early-season battle of unbeaten clubs. Here is some of the other news of the day from Thursday’s media session In Ottawa…
ONE MORE ON NO. 4:
Jefferson was asked if the Bombers defence has to make any changes without Bighill in the lineup.
“We don’t need to change anything,” he said. “It’s early enough in the season for guys to be fresh and for guys to know that it’s a big thing for them.
“It’s a big thing that Adam’s out, but it’s a bigger thing if Kyrie can step up and make his name known in that spot… It’s just going to make our defence a lot tougher to know that if a guy like Bighill goes down and the next guy comes up and makes plays then what is going to stop us?”
The Bombers arrived in Ottawa to scorching 34C heat – a heat warning advisory is in effect through Friday – and the game day forecast calls for a 40 percent chance of showers late in the afternoon with a risk of a thunderstorm. The projected high is 33, with a humidex of 44.
“Our last three visits here have come down to the last drive, a game-winning kick or overtime,” said Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols. “Every time we come in here it’s a tough place to win and we found ways to do that. At the same time, it’s going to be a tough one. It’s a good atmosphere with a good crowd. They can get a lot of energy from their crowd here and it’s our job to try and take that away and do anything we can to get a win.”
HIT TO THE POCKETBOOK:
The CFL announced Thursday that two members of the Edmonton Eskimos were fined for head shots in last week’s game against Winnipeg.
Eskimo DB Monshadrik Hunter was fined for leading with the crown of his helmet in making contact with Lucky Whitehead; ditto for DL Nick Usher in a play against Geoff Gray.
Bombers WR Lucky Whitehead had the longest session with the media on Thursday and here are three of the meatiest takes from his chat:
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