Optimistic about Walls

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:26 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are optimistic that Gavin Walls will be healthy enough to play on Thursday in Montreal.

The third-year defensive end suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter of Friday's 19-15 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos and didn't finish the game.

He will be evaluated further today.

Head coach Doug Berry said Walls, the reigning CFL defensive player of the week, had more strength in the shoulder yesterday than they thought he would.

"I'm somewhat optimistic about Gavin," Berry said, "but if not we've got Shawn Mayne coming out of camp we were feeling pretty good about."

Bombers slotback Chris Brazzell developed a knot in his calf muscle early in Friday's game, so Berry sat him down. He is probable for Thursday's game.

MAD MILT: Berry said the only distraction surrounding Milt Stegall's touchdown record chase comes from the media.

"There's just so much talk about it," Berry said. "It's only a distraction when we talk about it like right now."

Stegall shouted at the media scrum surrounding quarterback Kevin Glenn after Friday's game because he thought someone had asked Glenn if the record chase had become a distraction.

It was the Eskimos who were distracting Stegall on Friday. They often dropped 10 defenders into coverage to ensure double or triple coverage, and they also got in his face -- or tugged on his jersey -- at every opportunity.

DIGGING A HOLE: Berry reported the Bombers offence started from behind the line of scrimmage on first or second down on seven of its 14 possessions Friday.

Illegal procedure and offside penalties were mainly to blame.

'MENTAL MISTAKES'

"We've gotta be much more consistent on first down and stay out of the procedure penalties, the offside with the receivers attacking the line of scrimmage," Berry said. "... We've gotta eliminate the mental mistakes."

BIG NAME, BIG GAME: Berry was impressed with the play of rookie defensive halfback Chijioke Onyenegecha, who made his CFL debut Friday.

"He played really well," Berry said.

There was one exception, however. When the Eskimos recovered an onside punt in the first quarter, the Bombers had only 11 players on the field. It was Onyenegecha who forgot to report for duty.

"That's probably my responsibility to make sure he's out there, knowing he's a new guy," Berry said.

WACKY WEATHER: New Bombers punter Rob Pikula didn't know what to make of the elements Friday, what with the big wind, the monster cloudburst in the first quarter and the sunny skies that followed.

"It's like seeing all four seasons in one day, basically," the Brantford, Ont., native said. "This is a whole new experience for me, definitely.

"I've never seen anything like that before, especially wind. I've never kicked in a wind like that before."

LATE HITS: Backup defensive tackle Jon Oosterhuis's touchdown reception Friday was the second of his career. The other happened two years ago, also in a loss to Edmonton. "Maybe they shouldn't throw me the ball," Oosterhuis cracked ... Berry said Troy Westwood will likely do the placekicking again on Thursday ... WR Derick Armstrong (knee), WR Arjei Franklin (ankle) and DB Greg Moss (hamstring) are the closest to returning from injury. CB Robert Bean (knee), OL Obby Khan (illness) and DB Anthony Malbrough (hamstring) won't play Thursday. WR Adam Eckert has been moved to the practice roster.


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