Three's a crowd at end

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

The difficult question: How do you fit three players into the two end positions on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive line?

The easy answer: You don't. You put Tom Canada, who had 16 sacks in his first two seasons, at the boundary position and then throw Gavin Walls, last season's CFL rookie of the year with 12 sacks, at the rush spot.

New head coach Doug Berry, however, does a different kind of math, and it involves sticking three players into two holes. He has said he will consider using a rotation system at the end positions involving Canada, Walls and impressive newcomer Stevie Baggs.

It sounds a little crowded for the two proven players, but Canada and Walls are saying all the right things.

"I'm not worried about losing downs. I'm worried about winning football games," said Canada. "Whatever it takes to win. If it's me sacrificing playing time -- that's not something I would necessarily encourage, but if that's what it comes down to and that's what it takes to win -- that's what I'm willing to sacrifice.

"But I don't necessarily think that's what in the plans, as far as I'm concerned."

Walls echoed Canada's sentiments in that it's all about the victories.

"Stevie's in a good position," said Walls.

"He's a great athlete, and I really don't care if I start. It's all about just keeping a rhythm going. If it's called for somebody else to play in front of me, then that's what it'll be.

"I'm not going to lay down. I'm gonna do what I gotta do, but, at the same time, we need to keep the same heartbeat, because this is a long season. If somebody goes down, we need somebody to come in and get the baton in their hand and keep rolling."

Canada is a prototypical "boundary" end, meaning he sets up on the end of the defensive line that is closer to the sideline. Walls and Baggs, smaller and faster than Canada, are better suited to be "field" ends, meaning they set up on the end of the defensive line that is farther from the sideline.

Berry, however, would have no problem putting Walls and Baggs on the field at the same time, and that's why this is a three-horse race.

"You usually don't have two of them that have that speed, quickness and all of that," said Berry.

Baggs still has to prove himself when the lights are on, and that evaluation will take place Friday night when the Bombers host the Montreal Alouettes in their first exhibition game of the year.

LIT A FIRE

And even if Baggs doesn't show the same skills in the game that he has in practice, he at least has lit a fire under Canada and Walls.

"A guy like Stevie Baggs has elevated our camp, elevated our D-line, because he's out there making plays," said Canada.

"It forces us to go out there and do the same -- not that Gavin or I have ever slacked at making plays.

"He's been a great addition to our camp, and it's gonna be really awesome to see what he does come game time."


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