During training camp, and the first few weeks of the season, French mime Marcel Marceau talked more than B.C. Lions draft pick Jabar Westerman.
"He didn't say a word,'' defensive end Keron Williams said with a laugh. "He was quiet, he was mute.
"We kept picking at him.''
When explaining his silence Westerman said he wasn't trying to be aloof and he isn't shy. The big non-import defensive lineman from Eastern Michigan was simply trying to concentrate on the task of making the considerable jump from college football to being a professional in the CFL.
|Rewind: Westerman taken 2nd overall|
"I didn't want to get involved in all the distractions around,'' said Westerman, raising his voice to be heard over the shouts and music in the Lions' dressing room after Sunday's 24-5 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
"I was trying to get into my playbook. A lot of the time when people thought I was quiet I was just going over the plays in my head, trying to memorize them and seeing what I could do. In college we had the same terminology but it was different plays. I had to get used to it. Now that I am used to it I have opened up a little more.''
Westerman has proven a quick learner. The rookie has earned himself a spot on a Lions' defence that hasn't allowed a touchdown in three games.
"Things are going pretty well,'' he said.”I'm getting a lot more playing time than I expected to get.''
The two-game suspension handed to defensive tackle Khalif Mitchell resulted in Westerman getting his first professional start against Saskatchewan. He admitted to some extra pre-game jitters.
"After you get that first hit out of the way it's smooth sailing from there,'' he said.
In the last three games the six-foot-two, 285-pound Westerman has four tackles and forced a fumble for the Lions. He also recorded his first CFL sack when he hauled down Toronto QB Ricky Ray in B.C.'s win Week 6 win over the Argonauts.
"It felt great,'' Westerman said."Hopefully I will keep improving on that.''
Head coach Mike Benevides has been impressed with Westerman's progression.
"He keeps getting better and better,'' said Benevides.”As we go, he gets more used to playing professional football. He understands it. He's just learning and getting comfortable.
"One of the toughest challenges for any line of scrimmage player, whether it's an offensive lineman or defensive, is to just get used to the size, speed and physicality of the game. From a physical and maturity point of view, they are still not there yet.''
The 23-year-old Westerman said he's still adjusting to the speed and experience of the offensive linemen he's facing.
"I feel they have a better first step than me,'' he said. “In college, they were still adolescents, 18, 19 or 20 years old. These guys have been here for a long time. They know all the little tricks, the little hand placements, the techniques.
"It's going to take time to get used to that and defeat those techniques. I have been working with the offensive linemen. That should help me out.''
The defending Grey Cup champion Lions traded up two spots in the Canadian College draft to select Westerman second overall. In 23 games at Eastern Michigan over two seasons he had shown promise by making 48 tackles, nine for a loss, 5.5 quarterback sacks and one fumble recovery.
Born in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Westerman's family moved to Brampton, Ont., where he attended elementary school. He played football at Dodge City Junior College in Kansas before transferring to Eastern Michigan.
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|