All-star six-pack

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

To think that the Blue Bombers had actually considered sitting Gavin Walls out a game earlier this season seems rather flabbergasting now.

But Walls rebounded by returning to the form that won him the CFL award for top rookie last year and was one of six Winnipeg players named to the East Division all-star squad yesterday.

Then again, maybe it was the threat of being pulled that did it.

"It feels good," said the 6-foot-3, 221-pound import defensive end. "It came unexpectedly actually. From Day 1, I said I could only control what I do and it was a slow start at first. But I'm in a whole different system. It takes time. I've got to do what I'm supposed to do, not what I can do. But it feels good, man. I'm just glad to be a part of it again this year and hopefully, I can repeat this again next year and just kind of repeat some camaraderie to this football club. We've got great fans and a great team and that's what it's all about -- this team."

Walls, 26, finished with a team-high 11 quarterback sacks -- tops in the East -- as well as 32 defensive tackles. However, his improved play may have kept fellow defensive end Tom Canada off the dream team.

"I'm glad to see Tom get that 10 digits (sacks) because he was a little shy of it last year," said Walls. "I'm glad to see we're buying into what we have to do and we're playing together and we're getting sacks. I don't care about me. I like it when WE get sacks together with Tom. He's a good guy."

Both running back Charles Roberts and slotback Milt Stegall were unanimous selections, with linebacker Barrin Simpson, defensive lineman Doug Brown and kick returner Albert Johnson III also named division all-stars.

Johnson had been Winnipeg's nominee for top special teams player in the East but lost out to Toronto kicker Noel Prefontaine.

"The special teams award is over with so I guess you can't make up for that," Johnson said. "But it's always kind of good to get recognized and it's just a testament to the rest of the guys blocking for me and the defence for allowing me to get all those punts. You can't lead the league in punt returns without a good defence (forcing opponents to punt)."

Winnipeg head coach Doug Berry has been reluctant to single out individuals.

"I feel like I've got 24 all-stars here -- at least," he said. "In terms of the guys who were selected, I felt that they were certainly well-deserved. We had a couple of unanimous selections and probably could have one or two more but for some reason, they weren't unanimous."

Those would be Simpson and Brown.

"But I'm very happy with the way our team has come along," Berry said. "When you get players named, it generally reflects on how well the team has done."


Videos

Photos