Antico to the rescue!

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

The way things are going, if the Edmonton Eskimos happen to lose all three quarterbacks, they'll probably ask Antico Dalton to fill in.

The Eskimos defensive lineman-turned-linebacker has played practically every defensive position.

In last night's 18-12 pre-season win over the B.C. Lions, Dalton took over for injured A.J. Gass in the heart of the Eskimos defence and had an outstanding game.

It was the first time Dalton had played the position and it's likely where he'll line up next week when the Eskimos open their regular season against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Commonwealth Stadium.

"It's almost as if Antico plays the role that if anybody goes down we go 'Where's Antico? He's smart. He knows what's going on out there," said Esks head coach Danny Maciocia.

"I'm debating whether we should apply that philosophy on the offensive side of the ball, when someone goes down we'll call Antico."

Dalton, 31, was originally slated to start for the Eskimos as their weak-side linebacker. But when Gass went down with a knee injury earlier this week, the native of Eden, N.C. was asked to step into the middle.

He responded by making three tackles, getting in on a sack and generally causing havoc in the Lions backfield.

"I had a lot of fun running around out there with the guys," Dalton said. "There was a lot of energy out there. I enjoyed it tonight.

"In the middle you have to control the defence, you're like the quarterback, but on defence. You have to know what everybody else is doing along with what you're doing.

"That's probably the biggest adjustment, but we've been doing our homework, so it was alright."

Dalton was signed as a free agent in April, 2005. Last season he played in 16 games, recording 18 tackles on defence and 14 on special teams. He also had four quarterback sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

"The biggest thing for me coming from the D-line to linebacker is dropping into coverage and reading routes and things like that," Dalton said.

"But you have to have the confidence that you can go out and cover those guys and do what you have to do to win."

Last night the entire defence looked impressive, limiting the Lions offence to 12 points. The Eskimos also had five quarterback sacks and three interceptions on the night.

Stanford Samuels had a pair of picks while J.R. LaRose had the other.

"One of the interceptions that Samuels got was because (quarterback) Buck Pierce was under duress," Maciocia said. "And the guy that was in his face was Dalton. He created the turnover."


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