The loss of offensive lineman Chris Greaves is just one of the injuries forcing the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to make lineup changes for Friday night’s game against the Montreal Alouettes.
“This isn’t really the week you want to lose Chris Greaves,” fellow lineman Glenn January said Wednesday after practice.
Greaves is expected to miss several weeks after suffering a knee injury in last week’s 36-28 win over the Ottawa Redblacks. Cordaro Howard will replace the veteran lineman, which has other implications for coach Mike O’Shea since Howard is an import and Greaves is a Canadian.
“Whenever you play a team like this that runs a lot of different games and blitzes you want to have a guy that you’ve had a lot of experience with,” January added. “But Cordaro’s done a good job making sure that he’s in the film room ... when we’re getting some extra time in and making sure we understand what we need to do.”
O’Shea gives a lot of respect to Montreal’s defence and so does quarterback Drew Willy.
“They like to bring pressure, they keep on coming and coming and coming, they’re relentless ... (linebacker) Chip Cox is defensive player of the year (for 2013) but they’ve got a lot of good players,” said O’Shea.
Willy spent two seasons as a backup in Saskatchewan before joining the Blue Bombers.
“They’ve (had) a great defence ever since I’ve been in the league and before that they won a couple of Grey Cups,” said Willy. “We’ve been doing our homework all week and know we’ve got to play a great game.”
Winnipeg’s offensive line has been doing a decent job helping Willy make a solid debut in his first season as the No. 1 pivot and the Bombers are off to a 2-0 start. He’s completed 40 of 60 passes for 615 yards and four touchdowns and sits behind only Toronto veteran Ricky Ray at 690 yards.
But it’s those two wins that really please fans, starved for success after last year’s 3-15 finish. Only the Edmonton Eskimos are even with the Bombers at 2-0 and they too are bouncing back from a tough 2013 that saw them win only one more game than Winnipeg.
Injuries aren’t helping in the Bombers’ pursuit of a third win.
Defensive lineman Zach Anderson definitely won’t be going to Montreal, O’Shea said. Safety Moe Leggett’s status is uncertain — Johnny Sears lined up there during Wednesday’s practice — and hurting wide receiver Aaron Kelly will be going but how much he’ll play is a question mark. The team is taking along Canadian Brett Carter as a backup.
Kelly not only leads the Bombers with his 163 receiving yards after two games, he sits second in the CFL behind Toronto’s Chad Owens. O’Shea said Kelly hurt his knee in practice this week and left Wednesday’s session early, but still expects to be able to play Friday.
Carter, meanwhile, is a former Winnipeg Rifles receiver who got to work out with the team last season and even dressed for a July game, then spent the rest of the season on the practice roster. He got a late invite back to camp this season to continue his quest.
“It’s a crazy roller-coaster ride that I was on and it would definitely be great to start and have that opportunity but we’ll see what the coach has to say,” he said after running some first-team routes when Kelly left the field Wednesday.
Montreal has split its first two games.