Mike Sims-Walker hadn't been in Winnipeg long -- less than 24 hours, in fact -- when the Blue Bombers trotted him out to face the media for a mini press conference back in late August.
Now, the Bombers have parachuted in a lot of new talent this season. That's simply the natural byproduct of a campaign gone horribly awry.
But Sims-Walker got the extra attention -- new recruits rarely get their own media sessions, FYI -- because his football resumé sparkled and the demand from the press corps was plenty. A third-round draft choice of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2007, he led the club in receiving two years later before injuries had him headed to Canada to reclaim his career.
'Football is football, I'm not going to make it harder than it is'
For a club desperate to find any kind of offensive punch, Sims-Walker looked like a heavyweight find.
"Football is football, I'm not going to make it harder than it is," he said at his first introduction when asked about the differences between the American and Canadian game. "I've played this game for a long time and have been going out there and making plays. Of course the terminology will probably be a little different, but outside of that it's football."
Fast forward to the present and the 28-year-old Floridian has appeared in just one game and has zero catches. And -- depending on who you talk to -- his learning curve has been steep and pockmarked by what might seem an indifferent and apathetic attitude.
"When he first got here I just never noticed him on the field," said head coach Tim Burke on Wednesday. "We said that to him. Now he's shown that he can be a pretty good player."
'When he first got here I just never noticed him on the field. We said that to him. Now he's shown that he can be a pretty good player'
So this Saturday, when the Bombers play host to the Toronto Argonauts, Sims-Walker is essentially getting a second chance to make a good impression when he steps in for the injured Aaron Kelly to make his first CFL start.
Worth noting is this latest opportunity comes only after the injury to Kelly, who has been steady for the Bombers since his arrival. Burke said the position the two shared -- the boundary side wide receiver -- is the easiest to learn in the CFL game.
But Sims-Walker admitted Wednesday his adjustment to the three-down game -- including everything from cornerbacks who like to grab, to the waggle (receivers in motion pre-snap) to how a route is run -- has taken longer than he anticipated.
"It's more than the waggle, that's part of it. But it's a lot different, make no mistake about it," he said. "I'm adjusting to the game, to the rules. I don't take it for granted. I don't think less of it because the guys out here can play. A lot of these guys could play in the league (NFL) right now.
"I feel good. I'm always mentally prepared and my body feels good. I'm just ready to get that opportunity, man, to get out here and make some plays."
Asked if he was surprised he hadn't played more, Sims-Walker added:
"A little bit. But I'm a pro. I just keep my mouth shut, go about my business and work, come to work every day and do what I'm told to do."
The question after the next few weeks is whether Sims-Walker will be on the Bomber depth chart beyond 2013. When he first got here he spoke of this opportunity with the Bombers not being about the money, but about his passion for the game.
While that hunger hasn't always been evident in the weeks since, Sims-Walker did say he'd like to be back.
"Absolutely," he said. "I always love to play football, that's what I'm here for. I love the game. Every chance I get, I'd love to play."
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