SPORTS

Fred Reid, Winnipeg Blue Bombers offence not pushing panic button

09/08/2011 05:26 EDT | Updated 11/08/2011 05:12 EST
WINNIPEG - Fred Reid doesn't have his finger poised over the panic button.

The same goes for quarterback Buck Pierce and offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte.

Even though the Winnipeg Blue Bombers only scored a pair of field goals and a punt single in last weekend's 27-7 loss to Saskatchewan, Reid and his teammates on offence are confident heading into Sunday's rematch against the Roughriders.

"We know we're going to do more on our part here in the second half of the season," Reid said after practice Thursday.

"We've just got to keep coming out and working no matter who's finger pointing or whatever. We know what we've got in this locker-room."

The Bombers are still leading the CFL with a 7-2 record, but a lot of that success has been attributed to the defence.

Critics point to an offence that has just done enough to take advantage of the opportunities the Bombers' defence has presented.

Winnipeg's offence is last in the league in touchdowns (17) and first downs (154), second from the bottom for most net yards (2,937) and fifth in points scored (219).

Reid dropped to third in the rushing standings this week, with 585 yards from a league-high 149 carries. His average of 3.9 yards per carry is the lowest among the top three rushers.

Montreal's Brandon Whitaker has run 102 times for 670 yards (6.6-yard average) and Hamilton's Avon Cobourne is second with 621 yards off 125 carries (five-yard average).

"I've got to just keeping working hard, just keep plugging away and it’s going to come," said Reid, who has yet to crack the 100-yard mark in a game this year.

"Maybe sometimes it's on my part. But like coach (Paul LaPolice) says, it's all around the board. As a team we've just got to come together and clean it up and just get on the same page.

"There's no need to panic. We have nine games left."

Pierce has thrown for 2,013 yards, the lowest among starting quarterbacks except for Cleo Lemon (1,636), who was cut by Toronto this week.

"I agree we have to get better; we have to get better as a team," Pierce said.

"I don't agree with the statement that the defence has been carrying this team. We've made plays on offence throughout the course of the season that have gotten us to where we are.

"Offence is about assignment-perfect football and you're not always going to be perfect every week. But we're improving and, hopefully, we can continue to grow in the second half of the season."

He wasn't surprised the team received more criticism this week.

"When you're winning, sometimes some of your weaknesses are swept under the rug," Pierce said.

"And then when you lose, things are brought to light and your problems become evident and you need to fix them. Hopefully, we'll improve this week."

LaBatte said the offence has sustained some good drives that haven't resulted in touchdowns, but they’ll keep working at it.

"There's no panic or alarms going off on offence," the fourth-year guard said.

"We feel we've got a good group of guys and we've shown that in spurts."

And there is no finger pointing in the locker-room.

"We recognize that we have to get better, but I definitely don't think there's a huge split amongst the team thinking that the offence is dragging the team down or anything like that.

"We know that we're all in this together. We're going to be there to pick up the (defence) when they need us and they've picked us up and special teams has picked everybody up."

Notes: Receiver Terence Jeffers-Harris didn't practise again Thursday because of back spasms. ... Defensive tackle Dorian Smith (ankle) is unlikely to be ready for Sunday's game.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had Cobourne's carries on the season at 102.

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