August 13, 2019

48-Hour Primer | BC vs WPG

Winnipeg Blue Bombers #13 Chris Matthews during practice at IG Field August 13, 2019 (Photo by: David Lipnowski)

It’s a performance which has long since been erased from the collective memory banks of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers ‑ although the vile after-taste still lingers for much of their faithful fan base.

Rewind 13 days ago and there were the Bombers coughing up a 20-0 first half lead in Toronto, then finding their legs again briefly in the second half before the Argonauts – the previously winless Argonauts – authored a late game-winning drive that seemed to set off alarm bells all over the Keystone province.

And – POOF! – just like that much of the promise that had been flashed in a 5-0 start had been flushed with two straight losses on the club’s trek through southern Ontario.

Fast-forward now to the present as the Bombers, coming off a 26-24 win over the Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders, prepare to welcome a struggling B.C. Lions side which has dropped four straight and now sits at 1-7. Yes, the dots… well, they’re not too difficult to connect here in the lessons learned for the Bombers from a couple weeks ago.

“I suppose you could put it that way, but I don’t think we came into that (Toronto) game thinking in any way about their record,” began Bombers slotback Nic Demski. “We all know about the dangers of taking anyone lightly in this league. You have to be prepared to go to battle every week, no matter what the records are, no matter who is on the other team.

“The way we look at it, if we play up to the Bombers standard, we’re going to be OK because I don’t think anybody in this league can hang with us. But it’s making sure we play to that standard.”

That was a common take from inside the Bombers locker room following Tuesday’s closed practice as the ‘lessons learned’ angle was explored. There is still a quiet confidence with this bunch, but the two-game skid was also a backhand across the face about how easing off the gas pedal in a game or even during a practice week, can be potentially disastrous.

“We’ve already fixed those mistakes,” said receiver Chris Matthews of the Argos game. “We pushed on and the next week we already got us a win. We’re not worried about anything like that.”

“I don’t see it as similar,” added Bombers coach Mike O’Shea when asked the same thing. “You learn lessons from the entire season. Hopefully you become smarter as the season goes on.

“The lesson we learned from a few weeks ago was if you make that many mistakes you’re going to get beat, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is. We cleaned that up quickly in this last game and expect to trend upwards in that regard.”

The Bombers finished their final full practice today behind closed doors in advance of Thursday’s game against the Lions. Here are some notes and quotes from today’s media availability in our 48-HOUR PRIMER


Bombers KR Janarion Grant had a ribbon placed on his spectacular debut last week by being honoured by the CFL as one of Week 9’s Top Performers.

Grant had two-punt return TDs in the win over Calgary, covering 76 and 83 yards, and finished the night with 306 yards in kick returns. He became the first Bombers player in the modern era (post-1950) to return two punts for touchdowns in a game and only the eighth player in CFL history accomplish the feat.

“It’s pretty great,” said the soft-spoken Grant. “I appreciate everything, all the people that were involved. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing each and every week.”


No injury update from Tuesday, as the session was closed to the media, and Mike O’Shea did not have an update on left guard Cody Speller, who was injured in the win over Calgary but stayed in the game to help on the short-yardage packages.

“He’s a tough kid,” said O’Shea of Speller. “I’m going to give him another day. I know how tough he is and we’ll see.”

Speller was replaced by Drew Desjarlais, drafted fourth overall in the 2019 CFL Draft, against the Stamps.

“He’ll always play tough. As in any case with a young guy he’s got to learn,” said O’Shea. “The reps at tight end (in short yardage) certainly helped.”


There has been a ton of teeth-grinding about the Bombers offensive performance of late, even in the wake of the win over Calgary. The Bombers lead the CFL in offensive TDs and rank second in points, but just seventh in average passing yards per game.

Following practice on Tuesday, Chris Matthews was asked about how close he and the offence are to hitting a home-run.

“We’re working on it every day,” said Matthews. “It will come, it will hit and once it starts hitting there’s probably going to be no way to stop us. I’m not really worried about… I caught three or four other passes, so… I’m just waiting for that game where I don’t drop a ball. Can’t wait for that one.

“They’re definitely there. We just have to make sure we’re being strategic in what we’re doing, making sure everything is blocked up right, everybody is running the right routes and the quarterback is feeling comfortable in what he sees and letting it rip.

“Timing is everything and once the timing gets down I feel like we’ll be good.”