Backfield takes centre stage

DANIEL WILSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:58 AM ET

Whoever said familiarity breeds contempt never met the B.C. Lions' secondary.

The all-for-one, one-for-all gang has forged a bond over the course of a year that has made it one of the most feared and formidable backfields in the CFL.

With an inconsistent offence so far, the defence - and secondary in particular - is responsible for the Lions' early season success.

Just three games into the 2007 campaign, safety Barron Miles has a pair of interceptions and is on pace to shatter his personal best of 10 last year.

Defensive back Ryan Phillips has also been a ball-hawk with three interceptions, matching his personal best total in 2005.

According to Miles, the Leo's style of attacking the ball causes a win-win situation for the defensive squad.

"I think the fact that we go after the ball a lot, I think quarterbacks tend to hold onto it a little bit longer, which gives us more sack opportunities," said Miles. "If he throws it early and we go after the ball, we get picks."

Phillips attributes the march to last year's Grey Cup to galvanizing the unit.

"It just showed that we could be successful," said Phillips. "That's the best confidence. When you know you can go in every week and win games you expect to win, it makes everything on the job a lot easier."

Success on the field stems from the kinship the group - that includes starters Dante Marsh, Korey Banks and Lavar Glover - has off the field.

"We're a goofy bunch," said defensive back Barron Miles. "Basically a bunch of kids."

Miles says the unit has bonded by playing video games, golfing and even battling on the Scrabble board. This team building, says Miles, helps to know what his teammates are thinking.

"There's an understanding and respect level that 'hey, we're professional athletes and when we come to work, we come to work,'" said Miles. "We got guys that are willing to listen, willing to take criticism, willing to give criticism and that's how we survive."

The fun off the field carries over to success on the field in the form of a winning attitude.

"We learn from each other, but at the same time, we know each other's strengths and weaknesses and we know the potential we have," said Phillips. "We know we have to be the best, week-in and week-out."

Despite the early success though, defensive co-ordinator Dave Ritchie says there's always room for improvement.

"They can get better as the season goes along and that's what they aim for every week," said Ritchie. "They've gotten better from the first week to the second week to the third week, so I know they'll get better between now and the end of the year."

"There's always things that we can improve on and build on every week," said Phillips, echoing his coach's sentiments. "The sky's the limit."


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