DE's priority is winning

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

Gavin Walls is picking up his play at the perfect time.

The fourth-year defensive end is playing out his option year with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, which means he has the potential to become a CFL free agent in February.

"It's really not the time to be negotiating about me coming back," Walls said. "I just want to try to get this ring and then we can talk about whatever after that.

"It stays in the back of my head. This is a place I like, but I'm not worried about that right now."

ON THE LIMP: Defensive end Kai Ellis (toe) and right guard Ryan Donnelly (shoulder) both sat out practice for the second straight day, but it appears Ellis has a better chance of playing on Saturday in Calgary.

Ellis is expected to participate in today's workout, while Donnelly is going to see how he feels this this morning.

"(Donnelly) is able to play, but we're thinking about the possibility of leaving him (at home) this week," head coach Doug Berry said. "But he still could be ready."

If Donnelly can't go, it appears Matt O'Meara will make his second straight start. O'Meara started at left guard last week in place of rookie Brendon LaBatte (concussion), who will return to the lineup this week.

Wide receiver Derick Armstrong (knee) watched practice but is expected to play. That could be the case for the rest of the season, just as it is for slotback Milt Stegall.

Linebacker Ike Charlton, who missed five games with a groin injury, has been cleared to play but isn't practising with the first-team defence.

REST FOR THE WEARY: He's a little apprehensive to talk about it until a playoff spot is clinched, but Berry wouldn't mind resting a few starters down the stretch.

"I would be interested in playing other guys, whether it'd be a quarterback or other positions if we had an opportunity to do that," he said. "It wouldn't be a wholesale thing. I'd want to keep us at a very high, competitive pace and take it from there."

MURPHY MIFFED: B.C. Lions offensive lineman Rob Murphy denies he's a dirty player and laughs off any thought of Edmonton Eskimo safety Jason Goss looking for revenge when the two CFL teams play tomorrow at Commonwealth Stadium.

Murphy was fined this week for his part in a melee that involved Goss during the Eskimos 27-20 victory over the Lions at B.C. Place last week. Murphy plans to appeal the fine and blames Goss for instigating the incident.

"I sound like a freaking kid saying this but he started it," Murphy said with a laugh after the Lions practised yesterday. "He poked me in the eye."

Murphy doubts he has to keep an eye out for Goss when the two teams play again.

"I'm never going to see Jason Goss," Murphy said. "The times I will actually touch him on the field are probably one out of five games.

"If someone from the defensive line said something about it, then we'd have a problem. But I'm not worried about a little defensive back spouting his mouth off."

Goss, speaking after last week's game, said Murphy "is known as the dirtiest lineman in the league." It's an accusation the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Murphy has heard before and one he continues to deny.

LATE HITS: Quote of the day goes to defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall, who noticed Stegall chatting with Bomber Hall of Fame quarterback Khari Jones on the sidelines. "Are you two reminiscing about the old days, when you could go deep and you could throw it deep?" ... Outside linebacker Kelly Malveaux is one of two runners-up for defensive player of the week ... Former Bomber punter Sam Paulescu has signed with the Dallas Cowboys.


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