NEWS
08/12/2011 07:24 EDT | Updated 10/12/2011 05:12 EDT

Lions add new wrinkles in hopes of avoiding old results when they face Bombers

SURREY, B.C. - Subtle isn't a word often used to describe Arland Bruce.

The big presence Bruce brings with him might shift some of the attention away from the small wrinkles the B.C. Lions (1-5) will employ when they face the red-hot Winnipeg Blue Bombers (5-1) Saturday night at Empire Field.

The always confident Bruce thinks he's ready to make a difference for the Lions, who hope to build on the momentum they gained from winning their first game of the CFL season last week.

"I feel comfortable enough to go out there and perform and help this team win and to contribute,'' the veteran receiver said Friday after the Lions practised at their training facility.

"If I make a mistake it will be full speed, but I don't plan on making mistakes."

Bruce has a history of some colourful touchdown celebrations during his career. He once yanked a Spiderman mask out of his pants and pulled it on his head. His most famous antic might have been shedding his helmet, shoulder pads and uniform before lying down in the end zone in a mock tribute to the late Michael Jackson.

The 33-year-old slotback was coy when asked if he had anything special planned should he catch a touchdown in his first game with the Lions.

"If there was a lion out there I would probably walk the lion across the field," Bruce shrugged. "There is no lion out there."

Winnipeg defensive back Jonathan Hefney said the Bombers just have to tune out the noise Bruce can bring.

"Me and the defence don't worry about what one receiver is doing," said Hefney, after the Bombers held a brief walk through at Empire Field. "We worry about what we are doing.

"What ever he does it really doesn't affect us. It's what we do and what we do in our schemes. I think we'll be all right."

The Bombers defeated the Lions 25-20 in Week 4 of the season. Winnipeg coach Paul LaPolice said B.C. has improved since that game.

"They are probably going to be more confident and they keep rejigging their lineup to players they are more comfortable with," said LaPolice.

"I know they've got some players they feel comfortable with and they've made changes to give them opportunities."

Bruce has been in the spotlight since the Lions acquired him in a trade from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week. But in the shadows Wally Buono, the B.C. coach and general manager, has made several changes he hopes will impact the game.

Andrew Harris, the second-year Canadian from Winnipeg, is expected to start at running back, replacing a healthy Jamal Robertson.

Rookie Kierrie Johnson, who at five-foot-10 and 175 pounds looks like someone's little brother at practice, will be a wide receiver and return punts for Tim Brown, who is hobbled with a leg injury.

"Wally is just looking for answers at different spots and giving guys different opportunities to go and help this team," said slotback Geroy Simon, who has three, 100-yard receiving games this season.

"I think he's doing a little bit of tinkering. It's working. He's just doing everything he can to get us going in the right direction."

Bruce has just one week of practice with the Lions, but believes he's got a handle on the playbook.

"I've had sufficient reps all week," he said. "I got with the coaches, the offensive co-ordinator and the receivers' coach.

''They have prepared me nicely."

While Bruce may have the talk, Hefney said Simon is the Lion that can do the walk.

"Geroy is the guy on this offence," said Hefney. "We all know that."

The Lions have also shuffled their defensive secondary like a deck of cards.

Korey Banks, who is usually a nickel back, has moved to halfback. Veteran Ryan Phillips will alternate between cornerback, safety and halfback. J .R. LaRose will see time at safety, with Tad Kornegay playing halfback and Jerome Dennis wide-side corner.

"We are just trying stuff," said Kornegay. "We're playing some strength in certain positions and we'll just see how things go."

Quarterback Buck Pierce isn't surprised Buono is mixing things up.

"Wally is going to put the right people in the right situations," said Pierce. "I have to be prepared for a lot of different looks.

"The main thing is we have to stay focused and get through the early stages of the ball game until we get a bead on what they are trying to do."

The Bombers have used a bruising defence and quick-strike offence for their best start since 1987.

Winnipeg's defence has allowed a league-low 113 points, and top the league in several defensive categories. The Bombers have owned third quarters this season, outscoring teams 59-13.

Injuries will keep defensive tackles Doug Brown and Dorian Smith out of the game, but Lions quarterback Travis Lulay doesn't expect an easy night.

"Those guys who are filling in will do a fine job," said Lulay. "We know we are playing an aggressive defence and a team with a lot of confidence."

Pierce, a former Lion, comes into the game with a hot hand. He's completed 57 of his last 74 passes for 727 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.

He would love to keep that streak alive against a Lions club where he spent five years. He was released prior to the 2010 season and signing in Winnipeg.

"You want to play well when you come back to a former organization," said the 29-year-old who has been bothered by injuries his whole career.