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Oliveira returns from injury as Bombers host Lions on TSN


WINNIPEG — Brady Oliveira is happy to return to action, but not with the role he’s been handed.

The Blue Bombers’ star running back will be backing up Johnny Augustine when Winnipeg (0-2) hosts the B.C. Lions (1-1) Friday.

Watch the Blue Bombers take on the Lions LIVE tonight at 8:20 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT on TSN1, the TSN App, and

If it was up to last year’s CFL top Canadian and runner-up for most outstanding player, he’d be starting as he’s feeling good after missing the last game with a knee injury.

“I’m a competitor, man,” Oliveira said after Thursday’s walk-through practice. “I’ve been the starter the last two years here, right? I’ve earned that so, yeah.

“I don’t make those decisions, though. But I’m excited, man, I’m ready to go.”

Oliveira appeared more disappointed than angry with the change.

“Right now, they have Johnny No. 1 on the depth chart so (head coach Mike O’Shea) made that decision,” he said.

“So if that’s what’s best for the team, that’s what’s best for the team. I’m ready to go. I’m locked in. I’m dialled. I’m fired up, man.”

Oliveira missed all of training camp with an off-season injury. He played the first regular-season game, rushing 11 times for 38 yards in a 27-12 loss to the Montreal Alouettes.

He then missed last week’s 23-19 loss to the Ottawa Redblacks with a knee injury and didn’t practise at all heading into the match against the Lions.

“We did put him in in that Week 1 game and it didn’t look the way Brady would have wanted it to look, and it certainly is not the way we wanted it to look,” O’Shea said.

“So we're using a different approach this week. We’re trying to ease him into it.

“And then the second part of that is, Johnny’s carried the load all through training camp. He’s taken all the reps and deserves the chance to step out there and do more.”

Augustine has nine carries for 46 yards and two touchdowns through two games.

Oliveira will “for sure” be used in the game, O’Shea said.

It’s not just Winnipeg’s running game that will be under scrutiny against the Lions.

All three phases of the team hasn't performed like a squad that’s went to the past four Grey Cup games and won in 2019 and ’21.

Winnipeg sits last in the league for points scored (31) and net offence (593 yards). It’s eighth in allowing an average of 101 yards rushing per game and tied for fourth in fewest opposition points allowed (50).

Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros has thrown zero TDs and three interceptions.

Both the offensive and defensive lines have two new starters, while there are also new faces in the secondary, receiving corps and the return game.

Winnipeg also now has eight players on the six-game injured list.

“Be patient,” veteran offensive tackle Stanley Bryant said. “We’ve been a good team the last four, five, six years.

“It’s a little different this year so far, but we’re going to put it together. We’re going to find a way to go out and get a victory.”

Winnipeg hadn’t opened a season 0-2 since 2016. The last time the team started 0-3 was in 2012, when it went 0-4 before its first win.

B.C. Lions quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. isn’t going into Friday’s match overly confident.

“Don’t look at their record or anything like that,” Adams said earlier in the week. “That’s a good team with a good system over there so it’s always a battle when we’ve got to go over there.”

Lions head coach and co-general manager Rick Campbell is taking the same approach, even though the Bombers have been hit with injuries.

“They’re still really good,” Campbell said. “I find in this league right now all nine teams are very close and all the games seem to be really close. It seems to be who makes plays in the fourth quarter to win the game.”


Friday, Princess Auto Stadium.

BACK IN THE FOLD: Chris Smith will return kicks for the Bombers. He was released following an injury at training camp and then picked up again.

The rookie running back returned a punt 109 yards for a touchdown in Winnipeg’s second pre-season game, but the job was given to receiver Myron Mitchell, who’s now on the practice roster.

COACHING MILESTONE: O’Shea will coach his 161st Blue Bombers game Friday, surpassing the franchise’s all-time record for games coached by the legendary Bud Grant.

Grant hold the franchise record for all-time wins with 102. O’Shea has 96 heading into Friday’s game.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 20, 2024.