Baggs needs a big game

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

Stevie Baggs was known as Crazy Legs in high school (thanks to his exaggerated pigeon toes) and Shakespeare in college (because all he did was make plays).

Now he just wants to be known as one thing: a Winnipeg Blue Bomber.

"(Coach Doug Berry) said we're evaluated off our effort and our execution," said Baggs. "So if that's the case, if that's what we're going by here, I'll be a Bomber this year."

The 24-year-old Florida native is attempting to become the team's third defensive end, a position at which he would rotate with Gavin Walls and Tom Canada.

Baggs' situation is unique, because he's battling for a platoon role and not a starting job. The Bombers could easily move on with Canada and Walls and leave him behind.

Baggs impressed the heck out of the coaches during training camp practices, but he was practically invisible during Friday night's pre-season loss to the Montreal Alouettes.

"To be candid with you, I was disappointed in my play," said Baggs. "I know I can play way better than I played. I didn't show my ability as much as I would've liked to."

Unfortunately for Baggs, Berry and defensive line coach Richard Harris noticed that, too.

"He was probably not quite as great as I hoped he would be, but it was his first live contest," said Berry. "We discussed with him and Richard Harris has talked to him about things he can do to improve."

Baggs will get a chance to redeem himself tomorrow night in Montreal when the Bombers and Als have their pre-season rematch at Molson Stadium.

"It's huge for me," said Baggs. "I just gotta go out and play my game and not let the nervousness or anxiety of playing mess me up mentally or physically on the field."

Baggs, who will have to rely more on his splendid speed than his 6-foot-2, 240-pound frame to get to opposing quarterbacks, got a rude welcome to the CFL against the Alouettes.

He got eaten up by the Als offensive line, and he was seen resting on one knee before a couple of snaps, although it did appear that he was held badly on more than one occasion.

"It was a combination of me not having my legs from practice to the new speed of the game," said Baggs. "And three, when you're playing special teams and defence and there's a two-and-out, you get kind of winded.

"It was a combination of all those things and the anxiety and nervousness of a first game. It kind of builds up."

He also had trouble getting used to playing a yard off the ball.

"So I just gotta adjust my speed and kind of work off that. I know that now," said Baggs. "I'll have a great game this week."

That's what his coach is hoping to see.

"We still are high on him," said Berry, "so he'll get plenty of opportunity again this week."

Berry was then informed that Baggs said he'll be a Bomber this year.

"He said that? That's the right attitude."


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