The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have made it official -- Kyle Walters is the club’s new acting general manager.
As expected, the Bombers announced this morning that Walters has been elevated from his position as the team’s assistant-GM to the position of acting-GM in the wake of last week’s firing of Joe Mack.
"Kyle knows our football team inside and out and is the right man to serve as our Acting General Manager," interim CEO Wade Miller said in a statement. "I have every confidence that he will play a major role in helping us get a consistently competitive product back on the field."
"I want to thank Wade for the opportunity to manage this football team as we look to get it back on track," Walters said in a statement. "In a collaborative fashion, I look forward to making the kind of changes that will position this organization for both the present and the future."
Walters was the Bombers special teams coach for three seasons before being named the club’s assistant-GM and director of Canadian scouting last winter.
Prior to that, Walters was a head coach in the CIS in Guelph and also won a Grey Cup as a defensive back with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1999.
Miller was asked at a news conference this morning if Walters will have to meet any specific benchmarks -- do the Bombers have to make the playoffs, for instance -- in order to have the 'acting' modifier removed from his title at the end of this season.
Miller replied the team will undertake an 'exhaustive' GM search at season's end that will include Walters as a candidate. But Miller added Walters immediate future with the Bombers is secure. "No matter where we go with this search," said Miller, "Walters will be a part of this organization going forward and start providing some stability in the football operations."
Walters said he was concerned to hear some of the player comments that were reported in the media on Monday, including comments by QB Buck Pierce that he didn't know who was making football decisions for the club anymore.
"From a management standpoint, yes, my concern was it appeared the communication at some level was not where it needed to be," said Walters. "And that's been addressed and fixed today, I can assure you."
Walters also said that Ken Moll -- the team's director of player personnel and a close friend of Mack's -- remains on the club's payroll even with Mack's firing and is actively scouting NFL camps for the Bombers right now.
The Bombers also announced this morning they signed former all-star kicker Sandro DeAngelis.
DeAngelis said today that even when the CFL didn’t come calling to start this season, he believed the call would come.
So the veteran kicker, once the best in the league, settled into a coaching gig in his adopted home of Omaha, Nebraska, but he kept the body ready for when a team would come calling. On Sunday night, they finally did: the Blue Bombers, searching for someone to push Justin Palardy, brought the 32-year-old DeAngelis on board.
"My job’s to just come and try to be the consistent kicker that they want me to be," DeAngelis said, after taking the lion’s share of the practice kicks this morning. "It’s been a crazy whirlwind the last few days, but I’m enjoying every minute of it."
After an explosive first half of his career, DeAngelis struggled in more recent seasons. He kicked for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2010, but was released the next season, then bounced to Montreal and finally landed in Saskatchewan last year, though they cut him early this year.
Still, Bombers head coach Tim Burke knows well what DeAngelis is capable of – Burke was in Calgary coaching defensive backs while DeAngelis was earning his all-star raves with the Stampeders. Last month, Burke hinted that there are "other (kickers) out there," after a game in which Palardy was twice penalized for kicking the ball out-of-bounds, and on Sunday night the shaken club pulled the trigger.
They were looking for more distance on the kick-offs and tighter placement, Burke said, and DeAngelis was once the most accurate kicker in the league. "We needed more competition in that spot," Burke said after today’s uptempo practice. "Sandro’s a guy who’s got a lot of different tools in his bag. We thought we’d bring him in, have some competition and see who wins the battle."
As for which of his kicker is likely to start on Friday against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Burke was non-committal. "Tomorrow, we’ll watch both of them and see how it turns out," he said.
In other personnel news, Burke said injured receiver Cory Watson is likely two weeks away from game shape, and the squad plans to start offensive lineman Paul Swiston this week. "He’s come along," Burke said. "We’re hoping we get more production out of him."