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Bombers forced to take wait and see approach on Pierce’s availability vs. Stamps

A dejected Winnipeg Blue Bombers' quarterback Buck Pierce (4) sits on the bench during the second half of their CFL game against the Toronto Argonauts at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg Friday, July 19, 2013.


Winnipeg Blue Bombers backup quarterback Justin Goltz is preparing to start Friday against the Calgary Stampeders in the event that starter Buck Pierce can't go.

But the Blue Bombers likely won't know the answer to that until Wednesday.

"I'm preparing as if I'm going to start, trying to build off the momentum of last week," Goltz said after practice Monday, when he took first-team reps and Pierce mostly stood around.

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"You never know what the situation's going to be ... As long as I prepare as if I'm going to start, I can't go wrong."

Pierce was hit in the stomach in Friday's 35-19 loss to the Toronto Argonauts and couldn't finish the game.

Goltz, who played the second half and completed 13 of 15 throws for 170 yards, was in charge for Winnipeg's only touchdown of the game, a run by Chad Simpson late in the fourth quarter.

Winnipeg head coach Tim Burke says he isn't sure what Pierce's injury is — it could be just a bruise from the helmet hit to the abdomen — but, regardless, he isn't ready to go yet.

"It's not life-threatening," Burke said. "It's not internal organs that are bruised or anything like that."

The Blue Bombers took the short leash off Pierce against Toronto and let him move more but Burke says he wasn't hurt on one of those plays. He was still in the pocket and someone just slipped a block.

"Actually, on the plays where we took him out wide, I don't think he got hit at all."

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Keeping Pierce healthy was identified as a key to success this season by the Blue Bombers, although with a record of 1-3 success has been scarce so far.

Winnipeg has a fairly long list of wounded. Burke says he doesn't expect defensive tackle Bryant Turner back in time for Friday's game.

Fellow lineman J.T. Gilmore is also still a question mark and receiver Chris Matthews is doubtful, but another injured receiver, Kito Poblah, was looking better than Burke expected in practice Monday.

Before practice, Burke sat the team down and told them they needed to work on how they handle adversity during a game like last week's loss, when the wheels fell off after an early interception.

"I used the Calgary and Montreal game as an example — 24-0 and then a 35-0 swing the other way because Calgary's a mature team, they believe they're going to win, they know they're going to win," Burke said. "I said that's the attitude you've got to take."

The players also held their own meeting, without coaches, and told each other what they think needs to be done to turn the season around.

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Veteran receiver Terrence Edwards, who also looks ready to come off the injured list for Friday's game, says it wasn't negative.

He watched from the sidelines and adds that as a leader among the receivers he offered them his perspective.

"Everybody's got to be very detail-oriented about their craft," he said.

"I think that's the biggest problem with us. We're not doing the little things properly."

Edwards says he's going to work to ensure the receivers start correcting their mistakes and other veterans will be doing the same thing.

Practice was delayed by all the meetings but Burke says the result on the field was good.

"I thought our practice was very good," he said. "I don't know what the players said in (their meeting). I heard it was constructive."

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