Lions host hurtin' Tabbies

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

Why is the B.C. Lions' defensive secondary so dangerous?

Because of its safety, Barron Miles.

The 33-year-old Roselle, N.J. native has paid dividends since general manager and head coach Wally Buono signed him to a two-year deal in March after seven seasons with the Montreal Alouettes. He's a big reason why the Lions have only allowed 154 points and are 7-0 entering tonight's game against the winless Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Miles has 14 tackles and one knockdown, plus a blocked punt and two fumble recoveries for 61 yards. More importantly, he has helped lift the play of his backfield peers, both old and new.

"He's been valuable," Buono said. "He makes plays for us and gives the guys around him a lot of confidence. I really see Barron's best games still ahead of him, because he's learning our system, and he's learning a bit of a new position too."

Miles is a product of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, where he was a two-time All-Big Eight conference defensive back who set records for blocked kicks and blocked passes. His college career highlight was playing on 1994's undefeated, national championship team.

Selected in the sixth-round of 1995's National Football League draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miles eventually found a home in Montreal where he was a four-time Canadian Football League all-star and 2002's most outstanding defensive player in the east. He played in the 2000 and 2003 Grey Cup losses but missed the Als' 2002 triumph because of injury.

"We ran a pressure defense the majority of the time (in Montreal) and played man-to-man," Miles said. "Here it's a mixture of both, where we sometimes send in pressure and play man and sometimes send in pressure and play zone."

Miles and wife Jennifer Bazata are parents of three children (Raven, Barron Jr. and Ava) and he's a tireless off-season volunteer for various community causes. On field, he's the secondary's most senior player and a mentor.

"We're gelling together, we still haven't played a full game yet," Miles said. "My role is to be in the right position, make the right plays, help the young guys out, and help them grow."

The Lions suffered from an inconsistent secondary in 2004. Miles credits the improvements to the solid play of the defensive line. As long as the linemen are "putting their hands in the quarterback's face" the secondary will continue to look good, he said.

As for the Ti-cats and their embarrassing record, Miles warns his teammates to look beyond the win-loss standings and expect the unexpected.

"Coming from the east I've been playing against Hamilton for some time, even when they're down they're a dangerous team," he said. "A hurt feline is always most dangerous. You never know what you're going to get."


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