Gallant relishes leadership role

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:07 AM ET

The number of safeties on the roster did not add up for Shawn Gallant so he knew the jig was up for one of them.

When the Winnipeg Blue Bombers acquired safety/linebacker Ryan Folk from Montreal last week, Gallant knew either he or Wes Lysack, who is in his option year, would be sent packing. So when he got a call from Winnipeg while spending the bye week visiting family in Windsor, Ont., the alarm bells started to ring. But the caller informed him that Lysack had been dealt to Calgary.

"I was surprised that it was him," Gallant said yesterday. "I wish him the best and I hope I'm in their plans for next year, too."

As it turns out, Gallant will replace Lysack as the quarterback of the secondary when Winnipeg plays host to the first-place B.C. Lions on Thanksgiving Monday.

'TAKING IT IN STRIDE'

"It's always nice to extend your role with the team," said the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder, who has started at safety for both Ottawa and Saskatchewan previously. "Once you've started before in this league and you don't get to do it for a little while, you're always excited to get back in and get a little anxious. But I'm taking it in stride and pretty much waiting for game day."

In fact, Gallant had expected more work on defence when he signed here as a free agent last winter, even if he did figure he would be backing up Lysack.

"This is the first team I've ever played on where I've never played much defence," said Gallant, who enters his own option year next season. "Every other year in the past, if I didn't start, I was in the game at linebacker or safety. So I'm sure I'll be a little nervous because it's been about 14 or 15 games now since I started. But it will be fun. As soon as that first snap goes and you get that contact going, (the anxiety) will be gone and you get right back into the flow."

Gallant, who turns 29 next week, got more work as an extra safety, or 'penny,' against Montreal and intercepted a pass early in that CFL match.

"I got more work because they go empty (backfield) a lot," he said. "So we played with two safeties and I was in there about six plays and was lucky enough to get a pick out of that one. But I'd rather take this role.

"As long as I can stay healthy, they're confident in my abilities and I know I am so I'll just go out there and try to mix it up a little bit."

Head coach Jim Daley believes he can handle it.

"He's a veteran, he's very physical and a very, very rugged athlete," Daley said. "We have really grown to respect not only his skill but his professionalism, his attitude, everything. He's a good player and he replaces a good player in Wes."

Meanwhile, both Folk and rookie safety John Sullivan are earmarked for stellar futures.

"John Sullivan's going to be a great player in the CFL," Daley said. "Ryan Folk's going to be a great player. We have depth at that position."


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