CFL

Ford makes first start at tailback as Bombers face Riders

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The Canadian Press
9/6/2013 5:44:53 PM
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WINNIPEG -- A substitution due to injury at running back is about the only major change the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will make this Sunday when they face the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Will Ford will make his first start at tailback since college in 2009 after spending a season and a half as Chad Simpson's backup and as an occasional kick returner.

"It's been a long time," Ford said after practice Friday. "I haven't even called to tell my family yet. I'm just waiting ... to get all the jitters out of myself and then I'll send all the phone calls out."

The door is open for Ford because Simpson is nursing a foot injury, while former NFL receiver Mike Sims-Walker will also dress for his first game this season since joining the Bombers Aug. 27.

But new safety Aaron Rouse, who only arrived in Winnipeg on Thursday, didn't have time to unpack before heading south again to try for another NFL spot.

"He has interest from some NFL teams and that was the agreement we made with him when he came up, (that) we would allow him to pursue those," said Bombers coach Tim Burke, who added that he hopes they get Rouse back.

This Sunday's game is a rematch of the Labour Day weekend tilt that saw the Riders walk away with 48-25 victory to continue what has become a solid tradition for Saskatchewan over the last decade.

They've had about the same success in the subsequent return game -- known as the Banjo Bowl -- which sold out more than a week ago. The home-and-away series has proved popular with fans in both Winnipeg and Regina, although the result has been pretty one-sided.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has already posted a mocking video on YouTube in which he says he can't play the banjo very well, sort of like the Bombers and football.

There was a glimmer of hope for the Bombers last week as they started strong, controlled Riders' star running back Kory Sheets and went into the second half ahead.

The Riders took the lead in the third but were still only up by six when the wheels came off for Winnipeg in a fourth quarter where the Bombers were outscored 24-7.

Winnipeg quarterback Justin Goltz says he recognizes that the two interceptions he threw contributed to that and hopes to correct them in his second straight start.

"I think those are simple fixes, especially for a young guy like myself," he said. "I found myself in a situation when we were down and I felt like we needed to press and it's as simple as throwing the ball away and giving out defence a chance to stop them."

Riders quarterback Darian Durant was the CFL's offensive player of the month for August after completing 86 of 129 pass attempts for 1,172 yards and nine touchdowns in his last four games.

Sheets is on pace to break records and is becoming a favourite for the league's most outstanding player award. Winnipeg defensive tackle Bryant Turner adds Saskatchewan's offensive line is probably the closest in the CFL to an NFL offensive line terms of in size and power.

"They're more physical, they're heavier," he said. "They try and shove the ball down your throat and I think they do a god job of it."

Will Ford (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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