GAME #7 | WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS (6-0) at EDMONTON ELKS (2-4)
Kickoff: Friday, 8 p.m. CT, The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, AB.
TV: TSN; ESPN2
Radio: 680 CJOB
Home/Road: The Blue Bombers are 3-0 on the road this year with victories in Ottawa, Toronto and B.C. Winnipeg is 6-1 in its last seven visits to Edmonton – the lone loss coming at the end of the 2018 season when starters were rested or had their snaps limited because the team’s spot in the standings was already secured before the playoffs. Edmonton is 0-2 at home, a year after going winless (0-7) in their own backyard. The Elks are on a 10-game home losing streak, their last victory coming October 12, 2019 against B.C.
BetRegal.ca odds: The Blue Bombers are favoured by eight points. For more of Bet Regal’s numbers on this game, click here.
Streaks: Winnipeg: 6W; Edmonton.: 1W.
- Edmonton will start second-year man Taylor Cornelius behind centre. He is 2-7 in his career as a starter and 0-2 vs. Winnipeg.
- Winnipeg lines up Zach Collaros behind centre. He is 52-34 in his career and now a remarkable 23-2 in his games as a starter in Winnipeg, including playoffs and two Grey Cup victories.
Winnipeg: Mike O’Shea has a career won-lost record of 73-55. O’Shea’s 73 wins as a Blue Bombers head coach ranks third on the club’s all-time list, behind only Bud Grant (102) and Cal Murphy (86).
Edmonton: Chris Jones is 55-41 in his career as a head coach, which includes two stops in Edmonton and one in Saskatchewan as the boss. His teams are 7-5 vs. the Blue Bombers.
Blue Roster Shuffle
The Bombers depth chart features two changes from last week. Coming aboard are receiver Tavaris Harrison and DE L.B. Mack III.
Off are receiver Greg Ellingson – the CFL’s leader in receiving yardage – and all-star DE Jackson Jeffcoat, both of whom were moved to the one-game injured list.
Their absences means the club will be without six starters against Edmonton, also including safety Brandon Alexander, linebacker Kyrie Wilson, slotback Nic Demski and centre Michael Couture.
Janarion Grant is listed as the starter in Ellingson’s place with newcomer Tavaris Harrison also dressing for his first game.
“It’s obviously tough losing a guy like Greg,” said Collaros upon arrival at the team’s hotel in Edmonton. “We have the ‘next man up’ mentality around here and we’ve got a bunch of guys who can play and know the system and I’m excited for their opportunities tomorrow.”
Ellingson, FYI, not only leads the CFL in catches and receiving yards, but also in second-down conversions with 15.
“Usually, the quarterback goes where the defence dictates the ball to go to, but Greg does seem to find his way into little pockets in the defence on second down,” Collaros said. “He’s a great player, great teammate, great person and we’ll obviously miss him but, again, it’s going to take everybody in the locker room to win.
“It’s a long season and I think last year we were fortunate with not having a ton of injuries. It’s the nature of this business. We have a great room; they’re coached very well, and guys know what they’re doing. This is pro football. Everybody wants the opportunity and the guys that will be out there will be ready to go.”
BLUE BOMBER SPOTLIGHT: Receiver/returner Janarion Grant
Blue Bomber fans are well aware of Grant’s skills as a returner, as he has five touchdowns in 23 games – including taking the opening kickoff against B.C. a couple games ago to the house.
Grant is listed at the starter in Ellingson’s spot against the Elks and it’s worth noting that in his limited reps on offence over the last three years he has had just four receptions – two of them this year – and three carries for eight yards.
“He’s certainly dynamic with the ball in his hands and he’s showing now that he has a great understanding offence, and from a couple different positions, too,” said Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea. “This just adds to his versatility and I’m excited for his opportunity.”
“You guys see what he does in the return game,” added Collaros. “Any time he gets his hands on the ball he’s a threat to go to the house with it. I’m really excited to have him out there and getting the ball in different ways.”
WILLIE BEING WILLIE
Blue Bombers all-star defensive end Willie Jefferson usually rocks basketball jerseys on road trips, but was sporting his Edmonton #99 jersey from his days in the Alberta capital, 2014-15, that included a Grey Cup win in ’15.
“I’m just coming back to where it all started and with Coach Jones (who brought Jefferson to the CFL) back in Edmonton and I just wanted to wear my old threads,” said Jefferson with a grin.
“… This is the perfect time for me to wear my old jersey and try to get back to being the young me – the relentless, the hungry, the quarterback-sacking me. I just like to have fun with my clothes and when I have the opportunity to do things like this, I’m going to do it. I’m going to have fun.”
The Blue Bombers have been 6-0 to start a season three times in franchise history – this year, 1960 when they rocketed to a 10-0 start before finishing 14-2 and in 1939 when the club opened with an 8-0 record.
- Edmonton rallied from a 19-point deficit in last week’s win over Montreal – their largest since 2013 and a 35-27 win over the Blue Bombers in which they were trailing by 20 – and ninth largest in Edmonton’s club history.
Elks QB made his 2022 debut last week, throwing for 230 yards. From the stats gurus: 128 of his passing yards came in the second half on 11-of-14 for a 79% completion rate. For the game Cornelius was excellent in mid-range (10-19 yards depth) at 9-of-13 with 1 TD pass.
“First, he’s more experienced than when we saw him last year,” said Blue Bombers defensive coordinator Richie Hall earlier in the week. “He’s 6-5 and a lot of times when we see 6-5 quarterbacks, they’re just statue quarterbacks like Tom Brady. He’s athletic. He can utilize his legs to extend plays, he’s got a strong arm and I think he has a better understanding of the CFL game as far as what we’e trying to do defensively. We have our work cut out because he has the athletic ability and a good set of receivers, he can be very dangerous.”
“We’re kind of a boring team. We go into each week and it’s repetition and we do the same thing. It’s boring from your guys’ (media) standpoint, obviously. But once you start letting outside factors creep in it could take away from your preparation which could take away from your performance in the game. This is professional football and there’s a lot of parity in this league. I’m sure you can point to some examples over the last six weeks where you thought one side was going to win and the other side won. It comes down to execution and we have to do that at a high level any week.” – Zach Collaros on facing the 2-4 Elks.