Esks' bad boy blues ...

Davis Sanchez hauls in a ball during the Edmonton Eskimos' training camp Monday, May 30, 2005....

Davis Sanchez hauls in a ball during the Edmonton Eskimos' training camp Monday, May 30, 2005. (Edmonton Sun/Perry Mah)

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

Reputation can be a good or bad thing.

Edmonton Eskimos cornerback Davis Sanchez certainly has a reputation. Clearly, it'll be up to Esks fans to decide whether that's good or bad.

Given Sanchez's in-your-face style and aggressive approach to the game, he rates as the CFL's enfant terrible in the minds of some.

His much-publicized confrontation with Ed Hervey during the 2003 Labour Day Classic and the four flags Sanchez drew in a game versus the Esks last season notwithstanding, Esks head coach Danny Maciocia isn't in that group.

"It's not how big a player you are, it's how big you play," Maciocia said of the five-foot-nine, 183-pound corner. "In his case he plays big and he plays with an attitude.

"Some people may have a problem with it; I know I don't. I don't want him to change one bit. I want him to come in here and showcase that attitude, which is very simply: 'When I line up, I'm going to shut you down.' "

That Sanchez is painted as a bad actor by the media is unfair, according to Maciocia, a member of Montreal's coaching staff when the soft-spoken back broke into the league with the Alouettes in 1999.

"He's no different than a lot of guys except maybe for an incident here and an incident there along the way," Maciocia opined.

"Then the focus becomes, 'He's an undisciplined individual' and so on and so on. I've never really witnessed that."

TIGHT-LIPPED

Sanchez is reluctant to discuss how he's regarded by the media, fans and players on opposing CFL teams.

However, the Vancouver-born cover man is content with the lucrative three-year plus an option contract he inked in March and is currently in the midst of buying a home and putting down roots in the City of Champions.

Despite a two-year stint with San Diego, the 30-year-old defender has no desire to play south of the border again.

He now has every intention of retiring an Eskimo.

Sanchez is pencilled in as the wide-side corner and will bookend with veteran Malcolm Frank. Frank set a CFL record, returning five interceptions for touchdowns last season.

Ex-NFLer Eric Kelly and non-import Maha Atogwe are also competing for the starting job Sanchez isn't taking for granted.

TALENTED GUYS

"Some guys may come in as starters, then you have to prove yourself at camp," Sanchez said. "There's a lot of talented guys here, so it's important for me to work on my trade. More importantly, it's for all of us to come together and be ready come the first game."

As a non-import, Sanchez was one of the bigger fish in the CFL's free agent pool this winter. The deep-pocketed Esks didn't flinch when it came time to ante up the estimated $210,000 per season Sanchez is earning under the terms of his new deal.

Now comfortable in a Green and Gold uniform, Sanchez has never been comfortable with being labelled a non-import starter.

"I've always strived to be the best cornerback, not the best Canadian cornerback or the best ratio changer," said Sanchez, who played college football at the University of Oregon.

"I want to be the best cornerback. That's where I set my standards and I think that's what has helped me with my success."

Second-year receiver Andrew Nowacki spent the bulk of yesterday's back-to-back sessions lining up against Sanchez.

"He's definitely quick," offered Nowacki after playing me and my shadow with Sanchez for the second straight day at camp.

"Quickness is his strength ... He makes us think he's doing one thing and disguises his coverage really well."

LATE HITS: Former Esks fullback Gilles Lezi has signed with the Ottawa Renegades. Lezi, the 10th overall selection in the '04 Canadian college draft, was released last month.


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