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QB prospects Hall, Clement getting chance with Bombers

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The Canadian Press
5/30/2013 4:56:41 PM
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WINNIPEG -- Max Hall is quick study.

He's a CFL rookie but it hasn't taken the former NFL player long to understand the importance of the quarterback in Canadian football as he tries to crack the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' roster as a backup to starter Buck Pierce.

"I'm not saying he's not important in the NFL because he obviously is," Hall said Thursday. "But there's a little more emphasis on him in the CFL."

The former BYU star played six games for the NFL's Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in 2010 but spent last season coaching at his alma mater. But that's also where Bombers offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton coached from 2001-2004.

Hall said his biggest adjustment in Canadian football is dealing with one less down.

"The key is having three downs instead of four, that's the biggest difference," Hall said. "Now you don't have that one down in there to have an incomplete pass or to get stuffed on a run.

"Every single down you need to get positive yards and you need to put yourself in a situation on second down to convert. That's the biggest difference and that's why you must have a quarterback who's smart, who can take of the football and go to the right spot."

Both Hall and Chase Clement, the other new quarterback at rookie camp this week, believe they have what it takes to play in the CFL. The Bombers are giving Hall and Clement as well as current backup Justin Goltz plenty of chances to prove themselves.

Coach Tim Burke says all are getting equal time in practice. But that will change Sunday when training camp opens and Pierce and Goltz will likely start to get more reps as the team focuses on game preparations.

Winnipeg's first exhibition game is June 12 at home to Toronto before the club opens the CFL season June 27 at Investors Group Field, its new stadium, facing the Montreal Alouettes.

Hall, 27, and Clement, 26, were signed after the Bombers released backups Alex Brink and Joey Elliott. Neither Brink nor Elliott impressed last season when they took over after Pierce went down with a series of injuries.

The Bombers have decided to go with Pierce as their starter again. But finding a solid backup is a top priority given Pierce's injury record.

Goltz, entering his fourth CFL season, looks like a good bet as the only veteran backup left. But nothing is carved in stone and both Hall and Clement are eager to get back on the field and start playing again.

"I had a great opportunity with the Cardinals, it didn't last as long as I wanted it to, but I have a great opportunity here," said Hall.

Clement is giving the CFL another shot after making a quick trip to Hamilton in 2009 and leaving after one practice. His main post-college experience was with the United Football League where he led the Las Vegas Locomotives to a championship in 2010.

"I've had a lot of success in college and a lot of success in professional football," Clement said. "I feel like I'm very much comparable to anybody in this league."

Burke is pleased with the progress both have shown in the short time he's had them.

"I think they're both doing a really good job," he said. "They're both learning the system, which is good.

"I think they're both making good throws. They're accurate. When they haven't been it's just because they didn't make a quick enough decision."

Burke also said both newcomers are picking up the Canadian game.

"I think they've adapted to the offensive part of it, which is the motion and all that," he said. "I think it's going to take a little bit more time to be able to understand what the defence is doing with all that motion."

Max Hall Buck Pierce Justin Goltz (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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