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Blue Bombers quarterback Willy to miss Calgary game, Brohm to start

10/17/2014 01:23 EDT | Updated 12/17/2014 05:59 EST
WINNIPEG - Blue Bombers quarterback Brian Brohm will make his first CFL start under less than ideal conditions.

The Winnipeg backup will be throwing behind a revamped offensive line when he fills in for regular starter Drew Willy (hand) on Saturday against the visiting Calgary Stampeders. Brohm's team is also mired in a six-game losing skid while Calgary has lost just twice this season and leads the CFL's overall standings.

Brohm, who got word Friday morning that he would start, said he's up for the challenge.

"Yeah we have some new guys that are getting their first experience just like me, so we don't know exactly how they're going to perform," he said. "But we have confidence in them that they're going to go out there and do the job. I feel good about those guys up front. Hopefully they feel good about me throwing the ball behind them.

"We're going to go out there as a group and do our best."

Calgary (12-2) is coming off a bye week and can clinch first place in the West Division with a victory. A loss will provide another blow to Winnipeg's fading playoff hopes.

The Stampeders will have starting quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell back in the lineup after he missed three games with knee and ankle injuries.

"Very, very eager," Mitchell said when asked how he's feeling. "I'm definitely just ready to get back on the field with the guys."

Brohm, who has played in three games this season, filled in for Willy in last week's 41-9 loss to Edmonton. Willy fumbled in the second quarter and then hurt his right hand when he lunged and fell while trying to stop Eskimos linebacker Dexter McCoil.

Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea said Willy just didn't have enough grip strength in his right hand to make longer throws so it was "a no-brainer" to start Brohm, who took all the reps this week.

The six-foot-three Brohm was a 2008 draft pick of the NFL's Green Bay Packers. He was later waived and picked up by Buffalo, but his last start with the Bills was in 2010.

This will be the first time the Stampeders and Bombers have played each other this season. Calgary head coach John Hufnagel said he isn't too familiar with Brohm.

"I know that he throws the ball very well," he said. "He can be dangerous. We're going to have to be ready for him."

Brohm signed with the Bombers last year, but injured his left elbow in a pre-season game and didn't see action again. He almost started a game a few weeks ago but Willy recovered from a shoulder injury in time to make the start.

Stampeders running back Jon Cornish missed one day of practice this week with the flu, but he's ready to continue his climb up the rushing ladder. He's at 817 yards on the season, just 32 behind leader Anthony Allen from Saskatchewan.

Bombers linebacker Johnny Sears said he's looking forward to going up against Cornish.

"We know what he brings," he said. "We know what the whole team brings. They've got a good offensive line so we've got to make sure we stay in our gaps.

"We've got to be stout against this run game this week."

Sears was moved to linebacker this week from halfback and backup defensive back Don Unamba is starting at linebacker.

Winnipeg's defence has allowed a league-high 129.3 yards rushing per game. Calgary's is the second stingiest at 91.2 yards.

The Stamps' defence is also second in the league with 18.8 points allowed per game, while the offence is tops with 28 points per game.

Mitchell said Winnipeg's defence, which has allowed the second-most points per game (27.1), is better than the numbers suggest.

"I think they've been put in some tough situations and given short fields on defence so I think the stats kind of lie a bit," Mitchell said. "They're better than what the stats show."

Winnipeg's revamped offensive line features Jace Daniels, who arrived in Winnipeg on Oct. 7 and replaced injured left tackle Glenn January (back). Matthias Goossen will suit up for his second game of the season at right guard.

Centre Steve Morley, right guard Devin Tyler and Chris Greaves at left guard round out the group.

"The last two games, we've got blown out both games and now we have the No. 1 team coming in Calgary," Morley said. "It's not impossible, but I think if everything goes right we have a chance to pull this one out."

Winnipeg also had some upheaval this week in the backfield.

Starting running back Nic Grigsby asked for and received his release after he was told he'd be sitting out for a second straight game in favour of Paris Cotton.

Cotton has 19 carries for 51 yards this season, including eight for 31 yards last week against Edmonton.

"I approach everything as a pro," Cotton said. "That situation (with Grigsby) was unfortunate, but it hasn't changed me at all."

Notes: The Stampeders are changing their field-goal unit. Receiver Brad Sinopoli (a former quarterback) will hold for placekicker Rene Paredes instead of punter Rob Maver. … Calgary is 6-1 on the road this season while the Bombers are 3-4 at home. Winnipeg is 1-6 against West Division opponents while the Stampeders are 5-1.

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