Talk about baptism by fire.
In his first two regular season games as an Edmonton Eskimo, defensive back Stanford Samuels has drawn two of the toughest assignments in the CFL - covering Milt Stegall and Geroy Simon.
After chasing Stegall across the field last week, Samuels' newest assignment is to shut down Simon - the league's leading receiver in 2006 - tomorrow night in Vancouver.
IN HIS FACE
At least Samuels got a preview of Simon last week by seeing Stegall in his face.
"They (Stegall and Simon) are real similar," said Samuels.
"I think Geroy has taken a lot of things out of Milt's game. They were together for a couple of years, if I am not mistaken, in Winnipeg and he built a lot of his things off of what Milt did.
"Both of them are real sneaky at times - how they change their speed throughout the routes. You just have to be alert with both of them."
Simon put up a stunning 1,856 receiving yards last year in the CFL, 486 more than his nearest challenger.
"It is hard to imagine, but he (Simon) can get lost within the offence at times and you lose sight of him," continued Samuels. The next thing you know, he is going 80 yards down the field.
"When you watch on a film, a lot of times he will lull you to sleep. He'll come off like it is a run play or like nothing is going on and the next thing you know - he's gone."
Samuels claims that has never happened to him before - and he wants to keep it that way.
One of the high-profile free-agent signings during the off-season for the Eskimos, Samuels gave up one touchdown to Stegall last week against Winnipeg.
It was Stegall's record-tying touchdown grab, but more importantly it forced the game to overtime.
"I am a tough critic on myself," Samuels said. "I don't want to give up anything. I gave up a touchdown (to Stegall). Technique was the main problem for me."
To be very fair, Samuels was not beat for all of Stegall's 126 receiving yards last Thursday.
In fact, Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia was pretty pleased with his new halfback after watching the game film.
"I thought Stanford played well," said Maciocia. "At times what is happening is that we are expecting help on top (from the safety) and at times it is not there."
That seemed very clear on Stegall's touchdown grab. That also likely explains why J.R. LaRose isn't starting at safety this week.
But as bizarre as it may sound at first, Samuels would rather face Simon this week than Stegall again.
"I would rather play against Geroy for the simple fact that Milt is the focal point of that offence (in Winnipeg)," explained Samuels.
"Every time Kevin Glenn drops back (in the pocket), he knows where Milt is and he is looking for Milt. I think that makes Milt more of a tougher cover than Geroy."
FINISH LINES: Samuels won't be the only defensive back that sees Geroy Simon tomorrow. The Lions offence allows for Simon to move to different receiver positions at times.