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Bombers head coach believes quarterback Willy will play against Alouettes

07/06/2015 06:50 EDT | Updated 07/06/2016 05:59 EDT
There's no doubt in head coach Mike O'Shea's mind who his starting quarterback will be Friday night.

O'Shea told reporters Monday he expects incumbent Drew Willy under centre when the Bombers host the Montreal Alouettes. Willy took a helmet-to-helmet hit that forced him out of Winnipeg's 52-26 home-opening loss the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Thursday night.

Willy practised with the starting offence Monday and said afterwards he experienced no lingering effects from the injury.

"We don't usually set our roster until Day 3 anyway but I'd say he's playing," O'Shea said.

Willy, in his second season as Winnipeg's starter, can't see any reason why he won't play against Montreal.

"I don't think so," he said. "I feel good.

"I had a pretty clean day out there . . . I processed everything fast out there. I look forward to looking at the practice film and keep working this week."

Willy was hit late in the opening quarter by Hamilton defensive lineman Adrian Tracy. He remained down for several minutes but walked off on his own.

There was no penalty on the play, however the CFL is expected to review the incident.

While Willy was motionless initially, he said he remembers everything about the hit.

"I was just trying to make a play, he (Tracy) came and obviously made a hit on me," Willy said. "It doesn't look good or anything but that's football.

"I know what I signed up for."

Willy watched the remainder of the first half from the tunnel before retreating to Winnipeg's locker-room in the second half. The former Buffalo star said he felt well enough to return and expressed that sentiment to the Bombers, who opted against allowing him back in.

Quarterbacks have been hard hit by injuries already this season. Toronto's Ricky Ray (shoulder) opened the season on the six-game injured list while Montreal's Jonathan Crompton (shoulder), Edmonton's Mike Reilly (knee) and Saskatchewan's Darian Durant (Achilles) were all hurt in their clubs' season openers.

Reilly is out 10-to-12 weeks while Durant's injury ended his season.

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STREAKING REDBLACKS — After just two weeks, the Ottawa Redblacks are poised to enter unchartered territory.

Ottawa has opened the 2015 campaign with consecutive victories, matching the number of wins they had last year in their inaugural season. The Redblacks visit the Edmonton Eskimos (0-1) on Thursday.

Quarterback Henry Burris was 23-of-29 passing for 296 yards and three TDs in leading Ottawa past the B.C. Lions 27-16 in its home opener Saturday. Running back Chevon Walker ran for 103 yards while former Stamp Brad Sinopoli added nine catches for 99 yards and a touchdown.

The Redblacks opened their season with a 20-16 win over Montreal, their first-ever road victory.

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EAST DOMINANCE — East Division teams are getting the best of their Western counterparts early this season.

East clubs are 5-1 in head-to-head matches after going 4-0 last weekend. The Toronto Argonauts have recorded consecutive road wins over Edmonton and Saskatchewan to lead the way.

The West's lone win was Calgary's season-opening 24-23 home decision over Hamilton in a rematch of last year's Grey Cup game. The Stampeders needed Rene Paredes' 50-yard field goal with no time remaining to earn the victory.

Three more East-West matchups are on tap in Week 3 as Ottawa visits Edmonton on Thursday, Winnipeg hosts Montreal on Friday before Toronto heads to Calgary on Monday.

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SPEEDY START — Hamilton's Brandon Banks is off to an impressive start.

Banks has returned eight punts for 178 yards over Hamilton's opening two games for a gaudy 22.3-yard average. Banks has also registered return TDs in each game and leads the CFL with 326 all-purpose yards.

Banks showed last year how dangerous he can be. He had two punt return TDs — and another disallowed due to penalty — in Hamilton's 40-24 East Division final win over Montreal, then took another back 90 yards for a score that was nullified by a flag with 35 seconds remaining in the Ticats' 20-16 Grey Cup loss to Calgary.

Banks has certainly thrived following the CFL's off-season rule change on punts. Now, the five interior linemen must wait for the ball to be kicked before heading downfield, thus creating more room for speedy returners like Banks to operate.

Toronto's Chad Owens (12-yard average), Montreal's Stefan Logan (10.4-yard average) and Calgary's Tim Brown (10.1-yard average) are also double-digit returners but only Banks has punt return TD so far.

The good news for CFL opponents is they won't have to contend with Banks this week as Hamilton has the bye before heading to Montreal on July 16.

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