Esks' Thompson at top of his game

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:43 PM ET

EDMONTON — His numbers might have been on the decline last season, but new Edmonton Eskimos defensive back Chris Thompson is still at the top of his game.

Coming off an all-star season in 2008 with 60 tackles, 10 knockdowns and a team-leading nine interceptions for 99 return yards with he Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Thompson saw his stats drop in ’09 to 49 tackles and a single interception.

“I expected that knowing that I had a real good season the year before,” said Thompson, who made the most of his sole pick, returning it 21 yards for a touchdown. “I knew that some teams would probably not come my way as much because they knew what I could do.”

He was surprised by a trade to the Eskimos in return for wide receiver Maurice Mann on Feb. 16, while he was celebrating Mardi Gras in his hometown of New Orleans, La.

“I was looking forward to going back to Hamilton this year and looking forward to the upcoming season,” Thompson said. “We turned it around tremendously last year. We had a great season.

“The team jelled together and really got behind the offence, and they got behind the defensive guys.”

As an outsider looking in last year, Thompson said it appeared the Eskimos suffered from a bit of continuity then.

“The Eskimos always have a pretty good defence, but I know they’ve had a lot of changes in the secondary and on the defensive line, a lot of guys have been rotated in and out,” he said. “They have some solid veterans but in certain positions they were moving guys around a lot. I’m looking forward to being a change in that system.”

The versatile defensive back has shown an ability to play both on the corner and at defensive half during his time in Hamilton and previous Edmonton stint in 2007.

“When I came to Edmonton my first year I was a corner, and when I got traded to Hamilton they moved me to halfback, which is a position I never played in my life,” said Thompson.

But the change did him good, as he went on to have a career year.

“I’m a quick learner and if I see something done once I can pick up on it and pretty much roll with it from there,” he said. “I had a great season, but it didn’t show for us as far as record-wise. But the next year we had a pretty good team.”

Last year, the Ti-cats finished 9-9 and hosted their first playoff game in eight seasons.

“I was just happy that we had a playoff berth and turned the team around,” Thompson said.

Given that his return to Edmonton came the day after cornerback Byron Parker’s release to free agency in February, there is a good chance Thompson could will some action on the outside of the secondary during training camp.

“It’s a possibility but you never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how they’re going to play me. Wherever I’m going to play at, I’m going to make the best of it.”

One thing Thompson knows for sure, he will be better prepared than he was in his first season with the Eskimos.

“I came in mid-season and the CFL game was new to me so it was a learning curve I had to adjust to,” he said. “But I picked up on it very quickly and some games I was up, some games I didn’t play. It was a continual learning process and I value my first couple games in Edmonton.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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