Breaking down Walls

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

Hello Walls.

Jim Daley did not get Gavin Walls to break out of his shell by singing that tune to him every morning, he just went out of his way to say hi.

"We finally got him to say hello to people and that was good," the Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach said yesterday. "He's a quiet man and a very, very shy guy who's in a new country in a new league (CFL) and a new game. Sometimes, it takes a little while to adapt, or feel at home.

"I would say, 'Good morning, Gavin, how are you?' I really like him."

What he likes even more is the way the import defensive end has quietly emerged through training camp to the point where a more highly-touted defensive end, Marcus Jones, was released on the weekend.

"Guys take time to develop in this league so, he didn't surprise me," said Bomber GM Brendan Taman. "I've followed him for a couple of years and knew he was a good player. I figured he could compete for a starting job."

Walls, 25, spent the 2004 season with the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe and Taman inked him to a contract before someone else could scoop him up.

Walls actually led the Bombers with six defensive tackles in their pre-season game against the Eskimos in Edmonton on Friday.

"Gavin Walls is an interesting guy," Daley marvelled. "He's a 225-pound end who strikes you with the power of a man much bigger. He runs with the speed of a guy much smaller. He had no problem learning what is a very complex defence and is flying around the field making plays. He continues to impress me with his tough nature. He was a tough man on the field Friday night. It didn't matter if it was a 300-pound tackle, he took his 225 pounds and struck a blow that would neutralize his block and he would get off it and make plays. The more I see of him, the more I appreciate his skills."

The more he plays, the more he learns about this strange Canuck game.

"I just wanted to get the feel of the game," said Walls, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds. "I just had to get adjusted to one yard off the ball and try to beat those tackles on the edge out there. I'm a little bit more comfortable now as far as the first game goes.

"I'm still getting the feel of the game. I'm not 100% comfortable. I'd say I'm 75-80% comfortable with the game. Every day, I come out and try to work hard and everything will piece itself together."

The Ripley, Mo., native did attend the Minnesota Vikings' NFL camp in 2003 but was cut. So, he jumped at the Bomber opportunity.

"I heard a lot of things about the CFL and I heard that it was a great place up here in Winnipeg," said the Arkansas product, who is battling veteran Antwone Young. "And I heard it gets cold. But I just wanted to show these guys I could play, too, and get a role on the team.

"I've got this game Thursday (against the Eskimos) and actually, I'm a lot more comfortable. I'll have to go out there and play my hardest and do good things for this Winnipeg club."


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