WINNIPEG -- He's healthy but it will be another two weeks before quarterback Buck Pierce returns to lead the struggling Winnipeg Blue Bombers, interim head coach Tim Burke said Monday.
"Buck will be getting reps this week in order . . . (to prepare) for the next week," he said. "We just felt like it's too short a week to get ready.
"As far as health goes, he could play."
Pierce has been out since suffering a foot injury July 13 against Edmonton. That means backup Joey Elliott will start Friday when Winnipeg (2-8) looks to keep its fading playoff hopes alive against the Calgary Stampeders (6-4) at McMahon Stadium.
Burke ruled out going back to Alex Brink, who initially replaced the injured Pierce. Brink and Elliott have one win apiece as the Bombers' starter.
"I think Joey is progressing week-to-week," Burke said. "I think he's getting better at what he's doing."
Burke began the season as Winnipeg's defensive co-ordinator. He took over as head coach after Paul LaPolice was fired Aug. 25 following a close 20-17 home loss to the defending Grey Cup-champion B.C. Lions.
Burke's CFL head-coaching debut was a lopsided 52-0 road loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sept. 2. He came within seconds of redemption Sunday at Canad Inns Stadium before making a crucial miscue that cost the Bombers a win in the rematch.
With Winnipeg leading 23-22, Burke opted to punt instead of try a 42-yard field goal with the aid of the wind. The decision backfired badly as Mike Renaud's punt went into the end zone for the single, allowing Saskatchewan to counter with a late drive that culminated with Sandro DeAngelis's 40-yard field goal with no time left for the 25-24 victory.
It's a decision Burke regrets.
"I screwed up and I'm going to take the blame for it," he said. "I feel like I lost the game because I made that decision.
"Now, we could have missed the field goal and would have ended up in the same spot, but at least that field goal gave us a chance for a different scenario."
The punt single gave Saskatchewan better field position and more than 30 seconds remaining to move into range for the game-winning field goal. Had the Bombers made the field goal, the Riders would've had to score a touchdown to secure the comeback victory.
"I think everyone of us felt like it was a game we should have won," Burke said.
Still, the Bombers continued to make many of the same mistakes that have dogged them all season, like taking too many penalties.
Some players can expect fines, most notably James Green and Kenny Mainor. Green received a 30-yard roughing penalty in the third while Mainor was flagged for roughing in the fourth, both infractions leading to singles for Saskatchewan that came back to haunt the Bombers.
"We just have to be smarter than that," Burke said.
Winnipeg also hit a wall offensively when it got into scoring range, failing to score a touchdown Sunday.
"That's one of the things that we're addressing," Burke said. "Part of the reason is we're taking too many shots into the end zone . . . (and ) just not winning one-on-one battles."
Burke also said rookie tailback Chad Simpson needs more touches. He and receiver Chris Matthews have been the most consistent performers on a Bombers' offence that has struggled this season.
"That's one of the things we're talking about, finding more ways to get him the ball," Burke said.