BOMBSHELLS: Matthews on the shelf for at least one game
It appears the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be without towering receiver Chris Matthews for at least one game.
Matthews suffered a finger injury in Friday’s win in Ottawa, and did not practise as the Bombers returned to work on Monday.
“He’s gonna need a week, for sure,” head coach Mike O’Shea said. “I think a week.”
Matthews left Friday’s game early in the first half, and watched Monday’s practice with two fingers taped together on his left hand.
The 6-foot-5, 29-year-old was one of Winnipeg’s big-ticket off-season signings, after returning from the NFL last season to help Calgary win the Grey Cup.
The CFL rookie of the year with the Bombers in 2012 has been quiet so far, though, with just 3 catches for 26 yards and no touchdowns.
Middle linebacker Adam Bighill also missed practice again on Monday, raising the possibility he could miss a second straight game with a reported hamstring injury.
Dime back Anthony Gaiter and defensive back Marcus Rios missed the workout, too, but O’Shea said neither were serious ailments.
IT’S MILLER TIME!
They toil in obscurity, game after game, and then one day they’re staring at a scrum of cameras and reporters.
Blue Bombers special-teamer Mike Miller secured a place in the CFL record book by making seven special-teams tackles in Friday’s win in Ottawa.
Miller tied the record held by six other players, including former Bomber Brendan Rogers.
“Before that I think I’ve only ever had five, and that was tough enough just to get five,” Miller said, Monday. “It’s pretty crazy. The returners ended up falling in my lap a lot of times, and really I just made a tackle.”
A 30-year-old in his ninth CFL season, third with the Bombers, Miller says it takes a certain attitude to do what he does every game.
“You’ve got to have a fearless mentality, I guess,” he said. “You’re going to be running down 100 miles an hour, and knowing there’s going to be contact at some point. You can’t be hesitant. A lot of the time when you’re hesitant that’s when bad things happen.
“A fearless mentality, maybe a little bit of a screw loose. You’ve got to enjoy it.”
The Bombers gave up a kickoff return touchdown to B.C., Week 1, and Miller says that got the attention of players on the coverage units.
They’ve buckled down in the two games since.
“We have a lot of guys in the locker room who take tremendous pride in our special teams and doing the jobs that we do,” he said. “So when that happens obviously it’s going to fire you up a little bit, because you know you just kind of let the rest of your guys down. We don’t want to be known for that.”
O’Shea played his share of special teams during his career, and probably appreciates players in Miller’s role more than most.
“He’s been playing high-level special teams with an edge and a competitive greatness since he’s been in the league,” O’Shea said. “He’s probably had games where he’s played really well and not gotten a tackle. But that was a phenomenal game, a phenomenal effort, and I’m just honestly proud that I was standing there watching it.”
Miller credited teammates Nick Hallett and DJ Lalama for taking on two blockers at times, freeing him up.
“Our kickoff was flying around,” he said. “It was a weird day that it just happened to be seven times that he came my way.”
Miller’s big night came after rookie Kerfalla Exume recorded five special-teams tackles in the first game.
MEDLOCK SALVAGED HIS NIGHT
Usually when a kicker goes 0-for-2 in field goals, he wants to burn the game film and just forget about the whole night.
Justin Medlock can look back fondly at Friday’s win over Ottawa thanks to a kick that he called “a mix of the Knuckle and the Boomerang.”
“The type of ball that I hit at that time is a tough ball to catch, so I felt bad for Lank,” Medlock said of the fourth-quarter punt that Ottawa’s Ryan Lankford allowed him to recover at the three-yard line, leading to Winnipeg’s insurance touchdown. “I knew it was going to curve left. As soon as I saw he wasn’t going to catch the ball, I ran down… there was a hole so I was just going for it. I was kind of upset and, like, ‘Whatever, I’m going for it.’ I didn’t really care.”
Medlock, who has a name for all his special punts, says he only used this one a few times all of last season.
He says O’Shea and special-teams coach Paul Boudreau give him the green light to call the kick he wants to execute. Rarely does he punt purely for distance.
“They trust in me. Obviously, they’re a big part of my success in that area… I don’t know if a lot of coaches would let me hit more NFL-style punts.”
The Redblacks cut Lankford, a former Bomber, on Monday.
NEW FACE IN TOWN
The Bombers added Canadian defensive back Dondre Wright to the practice roster on Monday.
Wright, 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, was drafted by Montreal two years ago, playing 27 games and recording 59 tackles since.