November 27, 2021

Quick Hits — Western Final Countdown — Day 2

#5 Willie Jefferson

Quick Hits from Blue Bombers practice on Saturday as the club counts down the days to the Western Final, December 5th at IG Field…

1. A ‘TRASH-TALK’ DISCUSSION: The roots of interesting narrative from Bomberland on Saturday actually originate from Montreal and Regina, as the Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders went through their practice weeks leading up to Sunday’s divisional semi-finals.
Earlier this week Alouette LB Patrick Levels guaranteed a win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats while getting his digs in on Jeremiah Masoli, Brandon Banks and others. Later, Riders receiver Duke Williams was blunt in his assessment of the Calgary defence, claiming they can’t cover Saskatchewan’s receiving corps man-to-man.
It was eyebrow-raising stuff, albeit harmless.
But it also led to some questions being asked of the Bombers after practice on Saturday, including head coach Mike O’Shea. The Bombers boss was quizzed for his thoughts on trash talk and if he asked his players to refrain from that — especially leading up to a playoff game.
“It’s a veteran group. They understand what the expectations are here,” O’Shea said. “It was probably spoken about quite some time ago — I’m talking a few years — it would be foolish to think it doesn’t happen with our group. But probably once a year I just remind them that if you’re the toughest guy on the field you don’t need to say anything. That’s the bottom line.
“We do like our tough guys here. We like guys who play tough. The talking part, that’s not my favourite thing. But I recognize it happens.”
O’Shea also added this caveat about what was said in Montreal and Regina:
“I’m not a fan of that. But I’m not in their locker room and I don’t know what those players think their teammates need. If they think that’s what their teammates need to get going then so be it.
“It’s always about being yourself as long as you’re fitting in and doing what’s best for the team. If you being yourself is detrimental to the team — the team’s goal, the team’s effort, the team’s focus — then, no.”
Bombers defensive end Willie Jefferson is one of those players who isn’t afraid to speak his mind, but doesn’t spit out things to motivate his teammates.
“I don’t do things just for the fun of it,” he said. “If I say something it’s going to be coming from me, coming from my heart and it’s coming from facts and film study. We do what we do and we try to do it at our best ability.
“That’s just part of our team’s culture. We don’t worry about the media. We come here to play football and if somebody has something to say, they can say it. We handle our business on the field between the whistles.”
Added O’Shea:
“The conversations aren’t about ‘don’t say this and don’t do that.’ The conversations are about ‘do this. Please focus on your teammates, make great decisions for your teammates. The goals set at the beginning of the season, that should govern the decisions you make throughout the season. You need inspiration? Look to the guy next to you. It’s all about in-house and making sure we’re paying attention to what we’re doing more than anything else.”

2. INJURY UPDATE: Safety Brandon Alexander was busier at practice on Saturday, but did not participate in any of the team drills. O’Shea indicated Alexander could be a full practice player Sunday. Still not practising were RBs Andrew Harris and Brady Oliveira along with QB Sean McGuire.

3. FYI: The Bombers have practised earlier in the morning over the last few days. O’Shea said the decision was not based on the Western Final being an afternoon game.
“We start at the same time, but the meeting time is cut way short because we’re not preparing specifically (for a single opponent) right now. My buddies Chad Folk and Jude St. John (former teammates during his days in Toronto) called them ‘TFEs’ — time filling exercises. We’re not into that. Get in, get out and get them started on the rest of their day. I’m sure they’ve got lots of things they wanted to do.”

4. DEMSKI TIME: Nic Demski is coming off a regular season in which he was named a West Division All-Star and the Bombers Most Outstanding Canadian Player. And…

Montreal Alouettes' Marc-Antoine Dequoy, right, tackles Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Nic Demski during second half CFL football action in Montreal, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

“I feel like I’m on repeat… I still feel like I have a lot more to give,” he said. “But this was definitely a year in the right direction. I’m thankful and honoured to be an all-star and get the (Most Outstanding) Canadian on this team, but at the end of the day it all comes back to I just want to do whatever I can to help my team go get that Grey Cup.
“Playoffs is what you play for. It brought out a different dynamic in my game (in 2019) and I just kept it rolling and kept it running into this year. I just want to keep building and keep getting better.”