One determined guy

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

HAMILTON -- Gavin Walls is still trying to come to terms with the seriousness of the injury that blindsided him last week.

As previously reported, the best defensive end the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have employed since Elfrid Payton will undergo surgery to repair a ruptured ACL in Winnipeg on Oct. 22. But being lost for the season is a major blow to Walls.

"After the deal happened, it had been very unreal for two or three days straight," Walls said during a cellphone interview with the Sun from Winnipeg late Sunday night. "I was waking up early and I couldn't sleep because I was feeling so out of place. It's been real hard not being out there to practise.

"Its not so much that I'm in pain because it's one of those deals where you feel like you can still perform but you just can't twist around and stuff that we do. And the chance of messing it up even more is overwhelming."

Yet, the Bombers contemplated allowing Walls to finish the season with a protective brace because he is such a valuable member of the team.

"We discussed it but, once I felt it was a torn ACL, I was overwhelmed," said Walls, who had recorded five quarterback sacks this season.

"And I don't know who has played well with a torn ACL. That would be news to me. I've done a lot of research and heard of players playing with torn ACLs and their careers were over after that because they ended up tearing them completely out. Trust me, if it was a knee sprain, I would have wanted to play. But I guess it's pretty serious.

"I'm not used to sitting out. It hurts but I'm not in a world of pain. I'm not going to mope around about it. It could be a lot worse. My knee could've been completely blown out."

But Walls, who turns 30 this January, is determined to get back on the field and be just as effective next season.

"The research I've done says it (rehab) consists of a five- or six-month deal, depending on the athlete and the degree of the injury once they go in and check it out," he said. "I'm a fast healer and I'm hoping to be running by January. I'm looking forward to coming back but I'll find out how tough it is."

Walls suffered the injury on what seemed to be a fairly innocent play during Winnipeg's victory over the Edmonton Eskimos last week.

"There were for guys on me and (defensive tackle) Doug (Brown) and I kind of came under and my knee kind of buckled," he recalled. "It happened so fast and the adrenaline was going and I kept playing. But my knee got a little tight and I told (therapist) Al (Couture)."

Couture then kept Walls out of action until the injury could be properly diagnosed.

The Bombers had previously lost veteran defensive end Fred Perry to injury for the season so the Bombers played with two rookies -- Odell Willis and Phillip Hunt -- at the defensive end spots when they played the Tiger-Cats yesterday.

"They're still young and learning the game," Walls said. "But I have faith in those guys. Just don't drop the baton and finish the play."

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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