It's the official beginning of a new season for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, as they get set for their home opener tonight against the Edmonton Eskimos at Investors Group Field.
The Bombers will enter the contest without their star quarterback, Matt Nichols who was injured a couple of weeks back. That means Chris Streveler will get the start. It'll be Chris' first ever start and first ever game played in the CFL.
"I wouldn't say it's a daunting task," said Streveler. "It's a really exciting opportunity. It's been a short week of practice, so there's been lots of preparation. I'm really excited to play in a real game with the team, and hopefully, I can give us a chance to win."
One of the Bombers biggest additions in the offseason was star receiver and former Eskimo Adarius Bowman. From 2014 to 2016, Bowman racked up 4521 yards which included a career-high 1761 yards in the 2016 season. He then fell back a little bit last season due to an injury, receiving for just 534 yards, but Adarius is confident heading into this season.
"I'm looking at this season like every other one," said Bowman. "Definitely last year wasn't up to my standards, and I think everyone's having talks because I set the standard for myself super high every year. For me, it's the same preparation. I'm going in to be the best I can be for this team."
"I feel amazing," said Bowman on playing against his former team. "My time in Edmonton was amazing, but my journey as a professional athlete has to continue. I have the same mindset in a new place. It's a great environment over here, and I'm approaching it how it should be."
With the deletion of Bowman from the Eskimos lineup, many people are wondering how strong the Esky's receiving core will be, but quarterback Mike Reilly isn't too worried.
"It's really a challenge every year because teams always change," said Reilly. "We played a ton of football together, and we've had our success basically at the same time. It's a challenge not having him on the team anymore, but we're very confident in what we have this season."
Another big addition for the Bombers was Adam Bighill, who is expected to make a major impact on the Bombers defensive core immediately.
"He's a great football player, and I knew that since we played college football together," said Reilly. "He's an extremely strong guy, and he works as hard as anyone. In his free time, he's working to make sure he's ready for anything that comes his way. He understands the game. It's always a challenge playing against a guy like him, but, that's my favourite part as a quarterback.
"It's going to be a little strange seeing him in Winnipeg and not BC," he added.
The Bombers were 6-3 at IGF last season which was tied for second and was just behind Calgary who was 7-2.
Tonight's season opener will be the earliest regular-season opener in league history. The prior earliest was June 15, 2004.
Both clubs are 5-5 in their last 10 season openers, but the Bombers are 3-1 in their last four.
For the first time this season, you can hear tonight's game right here on 730CKDM, as we're a proud member of the Blue Bomber Radio Network. Kickoff is set for just after 7:30.