Rookies stand out in defensive gem

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:56 PM ET

EDMONTON -- Over the past couple of seasons, rookie defensive players with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers would usually be in a cab to the airport right about now.

They were employed for the first few games, but then, after sub-par performances, their services were no longer be needed.

This year, however, it's a different story.

Defensive end Gavin Walls and defensive back Stanford Samuels were two notable rookie standouts during Friday night's 14-12 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos.

Samuels, who is Winnipeg's dime back, or sixth defensive back, had his first career interception and scored the game's only touchdown with a three-yard fumble return.

"I'm feeling mixed emotions," Samuels said. "I'm motivated by the whole defensive performance, but at the same time you're hurt by the fact that we lost the game. And that's our main objective.

"It's not just to come out and shut an offence down, but it's to shut an offence down so that we can win a football game, and that didn't happen, unfortunately."

Walls, meanwhile, had his first three CFL sacks in his first full game. He had been platooning with veteran Antwone Young, but the latter missed Friday's game after injuring his knee in practice earlier in the week.

"All the guys on defence, I give praise to them," said Walls, who had his special teams duties cut back so he could concentrate on the end position.

"Those sacks, I give them to the DBs for covering.

"I knew I could do it all along. It was just a matter of letting me stay out there."

LATE HITS: SB Milt Stegall was Winnipeg's top receiver with two catches for 56 yards. Wane McGarity played well, with the exception of a drop late in the game, and had three catches for 44 yards ... Bombers RB Charles Roberts had a game-high 45 rushing yards on only 11 carries ... Winnipeg CB William Fields had two interceptions and a pass knockdown. "Omar (Evans) told me in practice," Fields said. "He was like, 'You gotta take chances.' I said, 'You're right. I'm a defensive back. That's what I gotta do,' so today I did it. But we lost, so I didn't take enough, I guess." ... Bombers S Wes Lysack had 11 tackles ... Edmonton SB Derrell Mitchell led all receivers with seven grabs for 115 yards. Eskimos WR Jason Tucker had five receptions for 102 yards ... Despite Sean Fleming's game-winning field goal, it was a night to forget for both teams' placekickers. Fleming was just 4-for-7, while Winnipeg's Troy Westwood was 1-for-3. Westwood was good from 27 yards, but he missed from 48 and 28. He is 5-for-9 this season ... LB Ryland Wickman (elbow), LB Lamar McGriggs (neck) and LB Scott Mennie (mild concussion) suffered injuries Friday night, but none of them are considered serious ... The Bombers have scored four touchdowns this season. Two of them have come from defensive players.


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