June 27, 2023

“We all took it personal, every man on the roster”

Legendary Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Knoll once declared after a stinker of a performance during the franchise’s dynasty days that the team wasn’t going to gather to watch the film afterward. Instead, he insisted, they were going to burn it.

It’s a cool story, no matter if it’s fact or fiction. And to pull this into the here and now as it relates to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, let the record show the club did indeed watch the film of their most recent performance – last Thursday’s 30-6 loss to the B.C. Lions that had most in Bomberland asking one question afterward: What the… ?

“We just stick to the process. We came in like we do after every game and we evaluate the film,” said quarterback Zach Collaros. “Obviously, when you come in after you get your butt kicked like that, it’s not fun to watch and you should take it personal and be fired up to get back to work and I think we all took it that way.

“We had a few days off to rest, get together and become better teammates and I felt like we had a pretty good practice today.

“We didn’t execute, first and foremost. They were physical, they played hard, and we didn’t execute. At the end of the day, it comes down to that, usually. Hat’s off to B.C. – they played a great game. There’s a lot to improve upon.”

The Blue Bombers often draw on their experience from a veteran-laden squad to flush wins and then refocus to simply go 1-0 the next week. The same applies after a loss, it’s worth nothing.

As head coach Mike O’Shea said Tuesday when asked by Jeff Hamilton of The Free Press what the loss could mean for his team – potentially a rallying cry, for example – he was succinct.

“Business,” he said, “as usual.”

That would be especially so for the offensive line, which had drawn so much praise in the two opening wins of the season but then struggled against the Leos and surrendered seven sacks. But they were hardly alone in a drop-off in play.

“We all took it personal, every man on the roster,” said Collaros. “We got out-played, out- physicalled, however you want to put it. That group’s played a lot of football together. They’re proud guys about what they’ve accomplished and what they’ll continue to accomplish. I don’t take anybody’s faith in them is wavering… certainly not mine. I love those guys. Those guys set the tone for us offensively and will continue to do so.”

Added O’Shea: “They just need to go play. That’s it. There’s no magic to it. They just need to go out and be physical and play. They’re a good group. That doesn’t change overnight.”

More on the Blue Bombers first day back at work in this week’s NEED TO KNOW


The Blue Bombers signed veteran QB Dakota Prukop, the club’s short yardage specialist last year, to a one-year contract on Tuesday, releasing Tyrrell Pigrome to make room.

Prukop headed to the USFL this offseason, dressing for four games with the New Jersey Generals while posting the team’s highest passer rating with 91.4. He has 61 CFL games to his name during his days with Toronto, Edmonton, and the Blue Bombers.

Prukop, his wife and their newborn son, just eight weeks old, arrived Monday night.

“I’m not going to lie – I watched all the preseason games; I watched the first three (regular season) games, and I just had that itch,” said Prukop after practice Tuesday. “It was, ‘Man, if it could work out and I could get back there…’

“I had such a great experience here last year; I’d be lying if I said (returning) never crossed my mind. It worked out and I’m extremely grateful and thankful to be here.”

So, too, are his teammates.

“We’re fired up about it,” said Collaros of Prukop’s return. “Definitely excited to have him back. A great friend, a great person, a great teammate, a great football player so anytime you can add someone like that to the mix it helps. Obviously, he’s got a history here and did a lot of great things for us last year.”

Pigrome flashed a ton of skill in the Blue Bombers preseason, but Prukop fills a need in short yardage and the special package offensive coordinator Buck Pierce built around his athleticism.

“From a human perspective it’s never great releasing anybody who’s worked hard to be in the position they’re in,” said O’Shea of the Pigrome move. “But when Dakota agrees to a contract… we know exactly what he brings and how efficient he is with the football under centre, what he can do for us and what kind of teammate he is, too. There are positives there.

“It’s tough on Piggy, obviously, but this is the right decision for our team.”


CB Demerio Houston was back at his spot in the starting secondary on Tuesday and he had a good excuse for being away recently – his wife gave birth to twins: Truelyn, a boy, and Lovelyn, a girl.

“Ooh, my stomach was hurting pretty much the whole pregnancy,” said Houston of finding out they were having twins. “I still can’t believe it, just holding them in my hands. I was able to get home and see them on Father’s Day. That was my gift on Father’s Day. It was truly a blessing.”


The Blue Bombers added American DB Tyrique McGhee to the practice roster on Tuesday. The former Georgia Bulldog started out rookie camp impressing before being injured and was released.

“He was only with us for a short time during training camp, but what we saw, we liked,” said O’Shea. “We’ve got a (practice roster) spot and we think it’s valuable to get him some more time with our group and see how he can perform.”

Returning to practice Tuesday were OL Tui Eli and DL Cameron Lawson as was DE Jackson Jeffcoat.


In case you missed it, the Blue Bombers announced Monday that kicker Justin Medlock is the lone inductee in 2023 to the club’s hall of fame.

Here’s O’Shea on Medlock:

“Well deserved. I think he’s the best. He showed it for a few different teams. What we asked him to do and his pursuit of excellence – he never wavered from it. He made people around him better and years ago he brought the operation of field goal kicking from snapper, holder to kicker to a whole new level that people had to up their game around the league, too.”