Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Aug 8 2015, Page 56

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - August 8, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE C1 RACING TONIGHT 7 PM 204- 885- 3330 ASDowns. com Be ready to win! Watch “ Secret to Winning” at ASDowns. com Jays beat Yanks in the Bronx / C5 SPORTS SPORTS EDITOR: STEVE LYONS 204- 697- 7285 I SPORTS@ FREEPRESS. MB. CA I WINNIPEGFREEPRESS. COM I CLASSIFIEDS C13 SATURDAY, AUGUST 8, 2015 C 1 T ORONTO — Unless the Winnipeg Blue Bombers miraculously morph from average to elite overnight, the next six games are about staying in the race. Almost assuredly nothing more, and hopefully for their fans, nothing less. More is unrealistic. Less? Well, it will increase the likelihood of empty November dates and mounting heat on the current management regime. CEO Wade Miller isn’t a stone. He’s not immune to pressure. A playoff game would go a long way to his being able to comfortably stay the course with GM Kyle Walters and head coach Mike O’Shea. Don’t misunderstand, Miller isn’t making any changes. But the clamour will get louder and more insistent if the Bombers miss the post- season. Going to Christmas parties and having to hide behind the fondue stand gets old. Miller lives in this town and constantly moves among the populace. He’s a politician as much as anything. And Winnipeggers want their potholes fixed and their sports teams to win. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff bought himself a longer leash with last spring’s push to the playoffs. He can hit the Safeway or stop for a beer and not fret about the incoming line of questioning. Miller? He doesn’t have to stock the bomb shelter with non- perishables just yet. But if the Bombers dip out of contention once again, he’ll want to begin pondering a list. One that will get him through a long and lonely winter. A playoff berth, which after a 3- 3 start to the season remains a possibility, makes everyone’s life a little easier. Management and certainly the long- suffering and loyal Bombers fans. Are the Bombers talented and experienced enough to make a run? They’re decidedly on the fence. The next six games will reveal more about this group. They remain an unknown and this season is setting up to be a cliffhanger. So, it’s time to grind, to steal a win or two, to quickly forget about the losses and most of all to not panic. The, “ it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” cliche aptly suits the Bombers right now. Inexperienced and maybe still a touch too flawed, if the Bombers are to get in, more than a little will have to go their way. Prior to the season, the Bombers reaching the postseason seemed to be too much of a stretch. But the unexpected collapse of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, an absence of offence with the Edmonton Eskimos and a nod to mediocrity from the B. C. Lions has opened the door in the West. Winnipeg is in the picture today and the key over the middle six games of their schedule is to not do too much damage to shaky playoff chances. Three more wins balanced by three losses seems like a fairly unambitious goal, but it’s realistic and more importantly, keeps the Bombers in the chase. They’ll need Drew Willy to stay healthy, to develop a consistent run game and for Richie Hall’s burgeoning defence to continue its ascent. Walters will have to provide added heft to the roster when NFL teams begin making cuts. Significant injuries will have to be avoided and inexperienced players will have to continue to grow. To shed their green and gain some maturity. So many ifs and so few sure things. They’re a gamble and a guess. Overseeing all this will be O’Shea, who is still growing as a coach. There are going to be dips and there will be highs, but if he can keep them close to .500 into the dying days of the season there’s a chance this team can lift itself into a new day. A new status. They’re close but are they real? We’re going to find out. gary. lawless@ freepress. mb. ca Twitter: @ garylawless MORE CFL COVERAGE C2- 4 GARY LAWLESS Steady as she goes Big Blue don’t need miracles, they need consistency MIKE O’SHEA chalked it up to overfamiliarity after too many days of his players hitting each other, instead of an opponent. Sukh Chungh said it was some healthy venting. Jamaal Westerman — tongue planted in cheek — said it was all just an innocent misunderstanding. And Dominic Picard? Well, Picard’s always been a different kind of cat and “ The Angry Frenchman” didn’t seem to much care what led to a couple of melees at Winnipeg Blue Bombers practice Friday — just so long as there are more of them to come. “ I love it — I just love it,” Picard beamed after practice. “ It shows character. We’re hungry and it showed up right there.” What had Picard so fired up at Investors Group Field on Friday was a pair of scraps midway through practice that saw the first- team offence and defence pushing and shoving one another and exchanging unpleasantries. Chungh and slotback Julian Feoli- Gudino and Westerman and cornerback Johnny Adams were among the combatants. O’Shea bit his tongue and didn’t intervene after the first scrap. But the Bombers head coach had had more than enough when a second scuffle broke out a couple minutes later. He gathered the offence and defence around him in a circle and lit into them for several minutes in a tirade that was both louder and saltier than anyone could recall O’Shea ever being at practice before. O’Shea was unapologetic afterward when it was pointed out to him his profanity- laced outburst came well within earshot of a daycare that was attending practice and sitting in the first row at IGF. “ We have open practices. We welcome everybody to come visit us. But they’re in our place of work.” So what was it about Friday’s shenanigans that lit such a spark in O’Shea, who has always been hands- off in the past when altercations broke out during practice? “ I did stand back — the first time,” O’Shea explained. “ The second time, they’re interrupting practice. You’ve got x number of people out there trying to get the job done and this is interupting what we’re trying to do.” O’Shea said it was a good problem, in any event, to have his team up on edge in their final full practice before taking on the Hamilton Tiger- Cats Sunday at Tim Hortons Field. “ You’d rather have to calm them down,” said O’Shea, “ than fire them up.” The most amusing reaction to the whole episode came from Westerman, who insisted reporters who witnessed the scraps were just misunderstanding what they’d seen. Continued Please see BOMBERS C 2 Fracas fuels Bombers’ workout O’Shea blows top, cusses out players By Paul Wiecek PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Drew WIlly managed to stay out of the melee at the team’s workout Friday. C_ 01_ Aug- 08- 15_ FP_ 01. indd C1 8/ 7/ 15 9: 43: 39 PM

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