Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ defensive Brandon Alexander doesn’t care what Calgary Stampeders’ quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell has to say.
“It don’t even bother me. I don’t even care. We’re going to go (into Calgary) and do what we do every single week. We don’t talk about what we’re going to do, how we’re going to do this, playoff implications,” Alexander told the media via videoconference.
“We’re going out there to do one job and that’s to win for that week. We’ll get to the playoffs and all that stuff when that comes.”
Mitchell told the media after last week’s win over B.C. that he’d love for Calgary to “put some doubt” in Winnipeg’s minds and “beat them up a little bit” in the final week of the regular season. He also praised the Blue Bombers, calling them the best team in the league.
“It doesn’t matter about players, coaches — it doesn’t matter about what they say,” said Alexander. “They gotta put on their pads like we do and we’ll see them on Saturday.”
Head coach Mike O’Shea indicated that he’d like to get some of the players who missed last week’s loss to Montreal back into the lineup “depending on their health status.” Among those who missed the game are Alexander, Zach Collaros, Stanley Bryant, Patrick Neufeld, Jackson Jeffcoat, Steven Richardson, Nick Taylor, Deatrick Nichols, and Janarion Grant.
“I want to be out there with the guys at the end of the day,” said Alexander. “This week, last week, next week — every week is going to be important. Right now it’s Calgary and if he puts me out there, I’ll be out there.”
Neufeld indicated that he could have played last week’s game, but having a week off was helpful given his age and how late it is in the season. He’ll be ready to play if called upon against the Stamps and would presumably slot-in at right guard or right tackle, depending on the status of Jermarcus Hardrick.
Winnipeg will have a bye following this week’s game ahead of the West Final at IG Field on Sunday, Dec. 5. In the event that certain players along the line of scrimmage are held out of a second consecutive game, Neufeld doesn’t believe the long layoff will be an obstacle.
“A lot of it goes with your mentality. Our group is a physical group and a large portion of that is our mentality going through every practice and every game,” said Neufeld. “It is what it is. If you get rest, you get rest. If not, you’re going out there and competing as hard as you can.”
Collaros was absent from practice on Tuesday because he and his wife, Nicole, recently welcomed their second child. O’Shea said that Collaros called his wife a “champion” when the two spoke and it remains unclear when the quarterback will rejoin the team.
“I told him to look after his family,” said O’Shea. “This is pretty important stuff, obviously, so he’ll make the best decision for him and his family and we’ll figure it out from there.”
It’s possible that Collaros will play in Saturday’s game, though we could also see Sean McGuire and Dru Brown under centre when the Bombers and Stamps close out their regular seasons.