VANCOUVER-- Same matchup, similar rosters, different scenario might be the best way to describe Friday night’s regular season opener between the Lions and the Bombers at BC Place.
Bombers players have had seven months to dwell over last November’s 34-23 loss to BC in the 99th Grey Cup, and fittingly they’ll get a chance for slight redemption right at the sound of the gun. Of course, it’ll have to wait until after they watch the championship banner raised to the rafters at BC Place.
Not too much has changed for either of these teams after capping off last season at a beautifully-renovated BC Place, which will also be the site of Friday’s game.
The Lions may not be closing in on another Grey Cup just yet, but at least one Lion will have a chance to reach an impressive milestone.
Slotback Geroy Simon is just 68 yards away from becoming the CFL’s all-time leading receiver, ahead of recently-named Hall of Famer Milt Stegall. Simon has a chance to break the mark of 15,153 in front of a large BC Place gathering and against Stegall’s old team.
Perhaps the biggest question coming into this game emerged only recently, when Bombers’ star running back Chris Garrett was sidelined during practice on June 26 and appears to be on the shelf for the season after tearing his Achilles tendon in his leg.
The Bombers let go of Fred Reid last season after Garrett’s emergence, now leaving a depleted backfield ahead of Friday night’s opener.
With the Lions boasting just about the same ferocious Grey Cup-winning defence as a year ago, minus Solomon Elimimian, this is sure to be a tough test and a solid measuring stick for Head Coach Paul LaPolice’s offence.
Pierce will have to shake off the rust rather quickly against his former team, after getting action in just one pre-season game and struggling to establish any rhythm.
Travis Lulay, meanwhile, appears to be in mid-season form after a pair of strong pre-season performances, and it’ll be interesting to see how he matches up against a veteran Bombers secondary that’s now the focal point of Winnipeg’s defence.
While the Lions appear to be the favourite coming in, the Bombers have won the previous three regular season meetings, the last one being a 30-17 back in August.
Kickoff is at 10 P.M. ET. The game can be seen live on TSN.
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