Battle brews at end

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:15 AM ET

Stevie Baggs.

The name sounds like a character straight out of The Sopranos, and that might be fitting, because Baggs could very well become the new hitman for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Baggs is a 24-year-old defensive end with catlike moves and speed to burn. He impressed the heck out of Bombers head coach Doug Berry at rookie camp and will be one to watch when main camp opens today.

Reigning CFL rookie of the year Gavin Walls and third-year pro Tom Canada held the two end positions last season, but former Bomber stalwart Ron Warner has returned to the club as well.

Throw Baggs into the mix and the defensive end battle is bound to be a beauty.

FIRST PRO CAMP

"That's what it's about -- competition," said Baggs. "You gotta be able to raise yourself to the next level, and good competition, that's what it's for.

"The better the guys, the better the team. I'm just looking forward to just playing my heart out."

Baggs is also looking forward to participating in his first pro training camp. Despite getting NFL looks in Detroit and Jacksonville over the past two years, he always arrived late in camp or during the season.

"It's good to have a coach like (D-line) coach (Richard) Harris, because our resources were kind of limited at my college," said Baggs, "and we didn't get this kind of coaching."

Baggs played college ball at NCAA Division I-AA Bethune-Cookman in his home state of Florida. Despite playing linebacker, he set the school's all-time sack record as a senior.

Teammates nicknamed him Shakespeare, because all he did was make plays.

Berry is impressed by all that Baggs can do.

"He can come off the edge, he knows how to make himself small, he's got a good rip, and he can drop in coverage, which is just another thing," said Berry. "He's done it."

Baggs said pass rushing is his bread and butter, and he proved that during the rookie camp, when he torched one offensive lineman after another during one-on-one drills.

He won't rule out lining up at linebacker, however.

"I like to try to be as diverse as possible, because I know that I have the ability to play both, but I'm the type of guy who will do whatever I can for my team," he said.

Besides wearing Elfrid Payton's old No. 56, Baggs also sticks out because of his running style. He is severely pigeon-toed, but it doesn't slow him down one bit.

New Bombers linebacker Barrin Simpson is also pigeon-toed, but Baggs' feet point inward at almost a 45-degree angle.

"My grandfather and father are the same way," said Baggs. "It's cool. It's just life. It's good to see somebody else out here who walks the same way."


Videos

Photos