Building blocks in place

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

The honours just keep coming for Blue Bomber sack leader Gavin Walls.

And with each one, the sack of money it's going to take to make him happy keeps getting bigger.

A day after being named the top rookie in the CFL West, Walls yesterday was named a division all-star, one of four Bombers to get the nod.

"It feels great," Walls said from Arkansas. "I'm kind of star-struck."

He's also seeing dollar signs, after working for a modest salary (likely in the $40,000 to $50,000 range) this past season.

By comparison, Walls' teammates along the defensive line, Joe Fleming and Doug Brown, earned well in excess of $100,000.

"This is business," Walls said. "I played beside two guys that were making six figures. To me, I don't see those guys making 30 or 40 or 50 grand better than me. I can make those plays as good as they can. This ain't no slave days, man."

Explore NFL opportunities

Tied for second in the CFL with 12 quarterback sacks this year, Walls has a contract for next season, his option year. And while he can explore NFL opportunities this winter, he's bound to the Bombers if he plays in the CFL.

"I'm not trying to make this a major numbers deal," he said. "At the same time, I'm not playing up there for the same as last year."

The Bombers did offer Walls a reworked deal in October, but he declined.

As for how much he thinks is fair, Walls says he'll leave that to his agent.

Other Bombers given all-star nods yesterday were running back Charles Roberts, who led the league with 1,624 rushing yards, slotback Milt Stegall, who led the league with 17 touchdowns, and punter Jon Ryan, who broke the league punting record with an 50.6-yard average.

Positive vibe

Roberts has been a division all-star in all five of his CFL seasons, while Stegall is now a six-time nominee. He last earned the honour in 2002.

Despite the fact that the Bombers have almost as many all-stars (four) as wins (five) this season, GM Brendan Taman feels the selections provide a positive vibe for 2006.

"It shows that we have some building blocks to build with," Taman said. "Just because you didn't have any all-stars wouldn't mean necessarily that, either. But it is a good sign when you get the recognition that you have some decent guys.

"There's some light at the end of the tunnel, which I've thought all along."

Taman added that all four Bombers have a legitimate chance to be named CFL all-stars. Those will be announced during Grey Cup week in Vancouver later this month.

Calgary and Saskatchewan led the West with eight selections, B.C. had four, and Edmonton had three.

Voting was conducted by the Football Reporters of Canada and all nine CFL coaches.


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