Lions newcomer a fast learner

HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:29 AM ET

VANCOUVER - No one was really expecting Jock Sanders to get his first taste of the CFL this soon -- not even Sanders himself.

Having signed with the B.C. Lions just a week ago, the running back/slotback was going through reps on offence and special teams during practice Wednesday, a good sign that he may see game action when the Lions face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Saturday.

"In my head I'll be playing sometime, but not this soon," Sanders said. "I just got to take it and go with it."

Considering he was on the opposite corner of the continent less than two months ago, that's a good mindset moving forward.

The St. Petersburg native is far from his Florida home and from the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team he signed with on July 27. His stint with the Bucs was a short one, as the 23-year-old found himself on waivers before the end of August.

With six other NFL teams having previously shown interest in him, Sanders now wishes he had signed with a different team than Tampa Bay. Even so, the experience he gained being around professional athletes was invaluable.

"It wasn't like college anymore," he said. "Just conducting yourself as a pro, that was a big adjustment I had to make."

How fitting, especially since the 5-foot-7 rookie is now making another big adjustment, this time to Canadian football. While Sanders points out the "motions" are the biggest difference from the American game, he's adapted well over the past week.

And the import says he's comfortable playing if called upon Saturday.

"At first last week, I was lost," he said. "But now I'm starting to get a couple plays under my belt and learning the terminology. It gets easy as you're repping."

Sanders brings versatility to a red-hot Lions team. Over his four years at West Virginia University starting in 2007, he rushed for 622 yards, caught 192 passes for 1,980 yards and returned kicks for 796 yards. He also became the team's all-time leading receiver.

Those diverse numbers leaves even Sanders to ponder what position he plays.

"That's what I'm asking myself," he said. "I just label myself as an athlete. Receiver, running back, kick returner, punt returner. I can do it all."

In fact, when coach Wally Buono asked him the same question, Sanders answered, "Whatever is going to get me on the field fast enough."

For now, Buono said the decision hasn't been made yet on Sanders' playing status, although he will be active for Saturday's game.

"The good thing about him is he adapts well and he's pretty smart," said Buono. "Obviously the player has to be comfortable and the player has to be able to grasp it. Those are two things he showed (Wednesday) he can do."


Videos

Photos