Friends off field but fierce gridiron rivals

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

Lenny Walls admitted that he's looking forward to this game a little bit more than the other ones.

The Bomber defensive back spent the last half of the 2008 season with the Calgary Stampeders, who will serve as the opponent tomorrow night in Winnipeg's home-opener.

"It's a little fun just playing against guys you know, guys that know me," Walls said. "I'm pretty sure there's going to be a lot of talking -- some good, some bad -- but those are my boys, man."

Walls and Calgary cornerback Brandon Browner played together with the Denver Broncos and then again with the Stamps, so the chatter began in earnest earlier this week.

"That's like a little brother to me, so we've been talking," he said. "We talked pretty much every other day this week, at least two or three times already."

Walls was unable to play in Calgary's Grey Cup win due to an ankle injury, and the Stamps traded him to the Bombers in May when contract talks broke down.

Walls held out for much of Bomber training camp when he continued that contract dispute, but he delivered the goods in last week's season-opener, recording Winnipeg's lone interception of Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray in its 19-17 loss.

"That's what I do, but I would much rather have the W," Walls said. "But yeah, that's what I do. I try to make people pay when they come my way."

ROSTER WATCH: Bomber head coach Mike Kelly confirmed yesterday that defensive tackle Doug Brown (illness), linebacker Joe Lobendahn (shoulder) and defensive end Riall Johnson (hamstring) won't play tomorrow night.

Brown and Johnson missed last week's clash in Edmonton, while Lobendahn was injured in the second half against the Eskimos. Expect Siddeeq Shabazz to take over for Lobendahn.

Cornerback James Johnson, defensive tackle Tyrone Williams and safety Steven Holness all missed last week's game but practised this week and appear good to go.

STEGALL SPEAKS: Milt Stegall, the newest member of the club's hall of fame who will be honoured at half time tomorrow night, spoke to the Bombers before their practice yesterday.

"He was very upfront, very forthcoming, and was outstanding in the message that he sent to the team," Kelly said. "We need to play our best against Calgary, but we also need to play our best to honour a player of his calibre."

TICKET COUNT: As of 5 p.m. yesterday, nearly 26,000 tickets had been sold for tomorrow night's game.


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