Blue hope transition smooth from Willis to Willis

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:32 PM ET

One Willis down, another Willis up.

That will be the case at defensive end this week for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who look like they are going to be without Odell Willis on Saturday in Calgary.

The official party line is Willis, who has left the team due to a personal issue, could be back for Saturday’s game against his former team, but Armond Willis told Facebook friends late Tuesday he will be making his first professional start against the Stampeders.

The 23-year-old said after Wednesday’s practice he is prepared for whatever is asked of him.

“Definitely. I’m ready to go even when I know I’m not playing,” said Armond Willis, a Florida International grad. “I’m still in the film room two hours a day, preparing like I’m going to play. I have to. That’s what I do.”

Head coach Paul LaPolice didn’t elaborate on Odell Willis’ absence on Wednesday, and the team issued the following statement: “The matter concerning Odell Willis is a private issue, and there will be no further comment from the Winnipeg Football Club.”

According to sources, Odell Willis is dealing with an immigration problem and there is no timetable for his return. As a result, the Bombers have re-signed defensive end Jarrell Chandler, who was cut at the conclusion of training camp, for practice depth.

LaPolice has no problem throwing Armond in for Odell, even though the latter has 12 sacks in 20 career games.

“He brings the same name, so we’re hoping for the same results,” LaPolice cracked. “(Armond) has really studied a lot. I see him here all the time. That’s what you want when guys come up late.”

Calgary’s bread and butter is the zone read play, where quarterback Henry Burris decides at the last second whether to hand off to running back Joffrey Reynolds or keep the ball himself.

Armond Willis said he’ll be ready for that and everything else the Stamps throw at him.

“This week there’s a lot of emphasis on taking the proper steps, taking the proper read, because you have to be looking at the right key at the right time,” he said. “Everything has to be in sync.”

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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