BOMBSHELLS: Bombers knock on wood, recall virus that ravaged team in ’19

Article content

HAMILTON – At this point of Grey Cup week in 2019, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were quietly dealing with a virus that ravaged the team in the days before they squared off with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Three defensive starters were so sick, they had to be hooked up to IV drips the day of the game.

“It was tough to breathe, I was coughing – it wasn’t fun,” linebacker Adam Bighill, who was one of them, was saying on Thursday. “I much prefer where I’m at right now. It’s easy to take it for granted.”

Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat and safety Brandon Alexander were the others hardest hit.
Alexander couldn’t practice for the first few days, while Jeffcoat got the bug late in the week.
“It was frustrating,” Jeffcoat recalled. “Had to do a lot of sleeping, a lot of hydrating. Didn’t want to get up and do anything. There were a lot of guys. But it speaks to how this team is. Any adversity, we’re not going to quit. We’re not going to give up.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

This week everybody’s been healthy, but there’s been another challenge in doing all the film study needed to be as ready as possible for the rematch with the Tabbies.

“Knock on wood, none of us are sick,” quarterback Zach Collaros said. “This week for some reason has felt a lot busier. A little more rushed. Today I feel like I’m finally caught up. I’m not going back to the room at 9 p.m. and thinking to myself I’ve got to (work) for an hour.”

It seems the media commitments for the highest-profile players are more demanding than they were in 2019.

“We’ve had less time to ourselves, from what I’ve experienced,” Bighill said. “You come into this knowing it’s not going to be ideal. But we’re in the hotel together, have access to the film 24-7.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

The last couple of nights I’m not out of there before midnight. You’ve just got to find the time.”
O-lineman Jermarcus Hardrick says it beats the alternative.

“You earn the right to get this media,” Hardrick said. “If we’d lost last week we wouldn’t have this.”
Fellow lineman Stanley Bryant says he hasn’t noticed an increase in media demands.

Perhaps that’s just his Twitter handle (@MyHumbleSelf) talking.

“Not too many people want to talk to me, anyway,” Bryant, said, chuckling. “I don’t think it’s too much for me.”

Pandemic restrictions have also given the week a different feel, with mask-wearing and distancing from anyone not in their team bubble.

Going out for dinner or even haircuts together means jumping through hoops, or not going at all.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

“It’s very different,” Jeffcoat said. “I accept the challenge. It’s cool just to be with the guys, to be here at the Grey Cup.”

TROPHY TIME

The CFL will hold an awards show on Friday night, with some tickets on sale to the public.

The Bombers could emerge with as many as four pieces of hardware: Collaros up for Most Outstanding Player, Bighill for top defensive player, Bryant for best offensive lineman and Mike O’Shea for coach-of-the-year.

“Everything we do is as a group,” Bryant, seeking his third MOP award, said. “I don’t want to make it about me, because it’s never about me. It’s about what we do as a whole. We do everything together. It would be great for our group. It’s about the brotherhood on the offensive line.”
Bryant is up against Hamilton’s Brandon Revenberg.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Bighill, facing Tiger-Cats linebacker Simoni Lawrence, was singing a similar tune about what winning the award, also potentially for a third time in his career, would mean.

“Whatever happens, either way it means a lot,” Bighill said. “This was never about one person, it’s about a collective group. I can’t be successful without anybody out there. Because it’s a special defensive year that we’ve had.”

Neither Collaros nor O’Shea have ever won their respective awards.
The Bombers quarterback faces Montreal running back William Stanback, while O’Shea will compete with Toronto coach Ryan Dinwiddie.

All four stand a good chance, O’Shea and Collaros probably leading the way.
“Either way, it’s a small piece to the puzzle,” Bighill said. “However the chips may fall… Sunday is really what we’ve got our eyes on.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

JA’GARED A GIGANTIC CHALLENGE

How the Winnipeg front five handles Hamilton’s defensive front will go a long way to deciding it.
The Tabbies’ Ja’Gared Davis is one scary defensive end.

“It’ll be a good challenge for me and Jermarcus,” Bryant said. “He’s great. I was looking at the last game… I see him drop into coverage on the running back, made a play on the ball. He might not look the part. But I never take that for granted. He moves very well.”
Hardrick expects to get his share of big No. 56.

“He’s quick as a cat,” he said. “He knows the game, plays for his teammates. He gives his body up for linebackers to make plays. He plays the game the right way and you always respect a guy like that.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

View original article here Source