Garrett's on the move

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

Shannon Garrett is willing to do anything asked of him by the Edmonton Eskimos.

If that means playing on the corner, or stepping in at safety - no problem.

On Friday, Garrett will line up in Ray Perryman's place at strong-side linebacker when the Eskimos travel to face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

It'll be Garrett's third starting position in the last three weeks.

"I started out playing that position last year and I've been the backup Sam (strong-side) linebacker since training camp," Garrett said.

"It's kind of like a halfback position, with the exception of first down when they have two running backs in the backfield, then I'm a linebacker. But on passing downs I'm essentially a halfback."

Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia felt the change was necessary due to the style of offence the Bombers employ.

In the teams' first meeting two weeks ago, the Bombers put up 39 points on the Eskimos defence.

"Shannon's got a good feel for all the defensive back positions and this week we're playing a football team that uses a lot of motion, they're constantly in motion from one side to the other," Maciocia said.

"They'll line up in the backfield and they'll scatter out. It's not much of a secret we have a lot of new guys back there and we're lacking as far as experience and we need a guy that has some experience to play this one, just because we don't want to lose any receivers when they come out of the backfield."

Despite being victimized on a couple of occasions in Vancouver, the Eskimos head coach says the change is not due to Perryman's play.

The rookie linebacker was awarded the starting strong-side spot after a solid training camp.

"I'm very happy with Ray," Maciocia said. "He'll be out there defensively also, but it's in our best interest to have Shannon line up at Sam."

To the veteran it's not a big deal. Nor is it a big adjustment playing in a linebacker's position coming in from his cornerback spot.

"This is the CFL - teams live and die by the pass," Garrett said. "I'm essentially a halfback, it's not that big of a deal."

Perryman is expected to make way for Garrett in obvious passing situations. The rookie linebacker is still getting adjusted to the Canadian game and the number of receivers that come out of the backfield.

In his first two regular-season games, Perryman has nine tackles, one quarterback sack and 11 hits. Last week in a 29-9 loss to the B.C. Lions, he had five tackles and five hits.

"The most challenging part of the game is learning to play against receivers coming down the field with speed," Perryman said. "The field is also obviously wider so they have more room to go.

"Down in the States, the field is more condensed where you only have to take a couple of steps and you're in your zone in zone coverage. Here you have to run into your zone turnaround and find a man, so it's a little different."

Garrett, 35, is a 13-year CFL veteran. He's spent the last eight seasons with the Eskimos so he's familiar with what it takes to cover receivers in this league. His ability to do so is what keeps him in the league.

Last week he took over at safety after J.R. LaRose struggled. LaRose is expected to go back into his safety spot this week.

"Last week we didn't get any pressure on their quarterback," Garrett said.

"This week, hopefully we can get some turnovers, at least one turnover. The B.C. defence created some turnovers and that really affected the outcome of the game.

"This week we have to try and get some turnovers and make big plays."


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