Taman under gun, starting now

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:58 AM ET

After getting a reprieve last season despite his team's horrible 5-13 record, Winnipeg Blue Bombers general manager Brendan Taman is considered by some to be entering a make-or-break year.

And it all starts tonight.

The opening of CFL's free agency period begins at 11 p.m., and Taman will be under the gun to upgrade at several positions.

So, is he feeling the pressure?

"No," he said. "I feel the same as every year.

"If people want to call for my head because the team went 5-13, then it is what it is, but I'm not going to pin everything on free agency."

WRITING ON THE WALLS? As of late yesterday afternoon, Bombers defensive lineman Gavin Walls had still not heard from the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers about a contract offer.

"I'm just waiting, man," the CFL's reigning rookie of the year told the Sun from his home in Arkansas. "Time is winding down though, so it looks like I'll be back as a Bomber."

Walls has until 11 o'clock tonight to sign in the NFL or his rights will revert to the Bombers, who have offered him a raise.

"They've talked numbers ... nothing too official," Walls said of conversation between his agent, Ray Savage, and Taman.

Looking forward

Walls said he's looking forward to working with the Bombers new coaching staff.

"If I come back, it's going to be different," he said.

LINEBACKER BACK: Scratch non-import linebacker Neil McKinlay off the list of potential Bomber free agents. McKinlay signed a new contract with the team yesterday.

The 24-year-old Simon Fraser product is entering his third season with the Blue and Gold after leading the team in special teams tackles last year (19).

McKinlay has started just one CFL game and recorded seven tackles in that contest. For his career, he has 13 tackles, 38 special teams tackles and one sack in 36 games.

"I have said all along that one of the keys to success for any CFL club is being able to acquire and retain Canadian talent," Taman said. "Neil has demonstrated that he has the ability to be successful in this league, and we're confident that he will continue to improve as he gains more playing time and experience."


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