Ready in re­serve

Much-maligned backup QB’s con­fi­dence won’t wa­ver

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - SPORTS - By Paul Wiecek

PUB­LICLY, he says he’s ready to start. And pub­licly, he prom­ises if he does start, he will play bet­ter than he has lately. But pri­vately, you have to won­der if Win­nipeg Blue Bombers backup quar­ter­back Brian Brohm is se­cretly at the top of a long list of peo­ple hop­ing Drew Willy’s in­jured right knee heals in time for him to start Thurs­day at In­vestors Group Field against the B.C. Lions.

The prospect of Brohm, who is QB non grata in Bombers Na­tion af­ter a cou­ple of dis­as­trous re­lief ap­pear­ances this sea­son, trot­ting out for the start of a game at Win­nipeg’s sta­dium to a cas­cade of boos is as real as it would be un­seemly.

Asked if he was pre­pared for the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing booed by his team’s fans if he gets the call to play Thurs­day, Brohm said he would weather any storm.

“I’ve been through a lot in my ca­reer, so I can take any­thing,” Brohm told re­porters Tues­day af­ter the Bombers (2-3) held their only full prac­tice ses­sion this week.

“I’ve been around the block. So noth­ing that’s go­ing to hap­pen is go­ing to bother me. My con­fi­dence isn’t go­ing to wa­ver.”

Brohm is public en­emy No. 1 among many Bombers fans af­ter yet another poor per­for­mance in re­lief of an in­jured Willy last Satur­day at Com­mon­wealth Sta­dium in what went into the books as a 32-3 loss to the Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos.

Brohm threw two in­ter­cep­tions and was just 9-for19 for 71 yards in re­lief of Willy. Brohm has thrown four in­ter­cep­tions and zero touch­down passes this sea­son, re­in­forc­ing what many in Bombers Na­tion be­lieved head­ing into the 2015 sea­son: it should be third-stringer Robert Marve, not Brohm, who is first off the bench if Willy gets hurt.

That’s not go­ing to hap­pen this week, how­ever.

Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea has said Brohm will start this week if Willy can’t go, but Marve could re­turn to once again han­dle the club’s short-yardage pack­ages.

Marve, who has dressed the last two games de­spite not tak­ing any reps at prac­tice due to an undis­closed in­jury, prac­tised Tues­day for the first time in two weeks with the sec­ond-team of­fence.

Brohm split the first-team reps with Willy for the first half of prac­tice and stepped aside again near the end to give Willy some more work.

Mov­ing gingerly and never faster than half-speed, Willy was the only quar­ter­back wear­ing sweat­pants — the three oth­ers wore shorts — so it wasn’t clear if Willy was wear­ing a brace on his right knee, which he in­jured dur­ing the third quar­ter of that loss in Ed­mon­ton.

Willy left prac­tice a few min­utes early for what the team’s media re­la­tions staff said was an ap­point­ment with a doc­tor. He was not made avail­able to the media af­ter­ward.

Af­ter prac­tice, O’Shea said he liked what he saw out of Willy, but added a fi­nal de­ci­sion on whether

‘I’ve been around the block. So noth­ing that’s go­ing to hap­pen is go­ing to bother me. My con­fi­dence isn’t go­ing to wa­ver’

he will start against the Lions (2-2) won’t come un­til to­day or pos­si­bly even game day.

“He’s feel­ing bet­ter. He’s pro­gress­ing,” said O’Shea. “But we’ll see how he feels the morn­ing af­ter he put some work in...

“This is one of those de­ci­sions we’ll make as late as pos­si­ble.”

Who­ever lines up un­der cen­tre Thurs­day night will be do­ing so be­hind an of­fen­sive line that will have at least one new starter this week — and pos­si­bly two.

Pa­trick Neufeld un­ex­pect­edly prac­tised Tues­day in place of vet­eran left guard Chris Greaves, the only re­main­ing reg­u­lar starter from last year’s of­fen­sive line. Greaves is not hurt, but O’Shea con­firmed the club is se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing start­ing Neufeld in place of Greaves on Thurs­day.

“We’ve got nice depth at guard and Paddy Neufeld has been ready. We’ve put him in and got­ten him some more reps and we’ll see how that looks,” the head coach said. “We’ll make a de­ci­sion on the Oline on Wed­nes­day.”

If Neufeld slots in for Greaves, it would be the sec­ond change this week. Devin Tyler, who started at right tackle last week, but was in­jured, is be­ing re­placed this week by Jace Daniels, who started at that po­si­tion the first four games of this CFL sea­son.

In other news out of sick bay, in­jured slot­back Nick Moore and line­backer Tony Bur­nett didn’t prac­tise on Tues­day, but O’Shea said both are still pos­si­ble for Thurs­day. Line­backer Graig New­man, who hurt his arm in Ed­mon­ton, was back prac­tis­ing Tues­day. De­fen­sive tackle Bryant Turner (thumb) will miss his third con­sec­u­tive game this week, while de­fen­sive end Greg Peach (undis­closed in­jury) will miss his sec­ond game in a row.

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