Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–7–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sims-Walker brought into battle too late

NFL castoff has big game vs. Argonauts

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SO, upon further review, it appears the coaching staff of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers might have underestimated receiver Mike Sims-Walker just a tad.

That's assuming that by "underestimated" you mean refused to dress a bona fide former NFLer for the last five weeks; and by "just a tad" you mean eight catches for 137 yards when Sims-Walker finally did dress at Investors Group Field on Saturday versus the Toronto Argos.

While the final result on the scoreboard was more of the same-old, same-old for the Bombers -- a 26-20 loss to Toronto eliminated Winnipeg from playoff contention -- the play of Sims-Walker was a bright spot for a team that these days is all about building for the future.

Sims-Walker caught almost everything thrown his way, including an acrobatic 40-yard catch in traffic in the fourth quarter that set up a Rory Kohlert touchdown two plays later. That got the Bombers within three points of the Argos, closer than they ever expected to be in a game they trailed 23-3 at the half.

So, Tim Burke, exactly why was it there was no room the last five games for the former Jacksonville Jaguar on a team that has struggled most of this season in generating exactly the kind of down-field play Sims-Walker made look so easy on Saturday?

"It's hard to tell just from practice," replied the Bombers head coach. "Since he wasn't on the roster, he was just doing scout team work, so it's really hard. And Aaron Kelly was playing so well, so it's hard to get on the roster. And then there was that period of time when we had three offensive linemen that were Americans, so we had to take one American receiver off the roster."

Sims-Walker -- who made his CFL debut for the Bombers in the Banjo Bowl in early September but didn't play much or record a catch -- only got on to the roster this weekend because Kelly sustained a concussion last week in Montreal and couldn't go versus the Argos.

It would have been hard to blame Sims-Walker Saturday if he had an "I told you so" in him, but he resisted.

"My motto is, don't fix nothing that's not broke, and Aaron Kelly's been doing a hell of a job..." he said.

Sims-Walker is signed by the Bombers through the end of next season, and at a time everyone on this team is auditioning for jobs for next year, his head coach had to concede a player he'd said only last week was taking a long time to learn the CFL game was maybe a better student than he knew.

"For his (second) game, he did a great job," said Burke. "And he showed he can run with the ball after he catches it. He made a couple of nice contested catches. So he looked pretty good, I thought."

Sims-Walker -- who had 134 catches in four seasons in the NFL -- said he plays a simple game.

"I don't put a lot of pressure on myself. I don't try to make it harder than it is. I try to make the game as easy as possible. I try to have a lot of fun out there.

"You see me out there smiling, running around, flying around. I just let the game come to me, not get too high or too low with myself and just try to make plays."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 20, 2013 B2

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