Esks secondary lookin' for quality

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:16 AM ET

There’s safety in numbers, but it’s not just about quantity.

With the quality of players the Edmonton Eskimos have in their secondary this season, no opponent is safe.

The Eskimos defence might have had some confidence in their secondary last season, but they didn’t always play like it.

This year, expect to see all-out aggression from the front seven knowing that their defensive backs are there to back them up.

“They brought in some tremendous guys, they brought in Lenny Walls and Chris Thompson. We got another veteran in L.G. (Lawrence ‘Flash’ Gordon),” T.J. Hill said. “They brought in some good veterans.

“A lot of times when you bring in a veteran you don’t have to teach as much as when you bring in a first-year guy.

“They can pick up on things a little quicker than somebody that’s just coming into the system.”

Hill plays a bit of a hybrid position that puts him in both the secondary and with the linebackers on any given play.

“I have double duty, depending on the formation sometimes I could be a linebacker, sometimes I could be a defensive back,” Hill said.

“Arguably, I would say it’s the hardest position on the defence because you’ve got two responsibilities: you’ve got to be able to cover fast receivers and you’ve got to be physical enough to play in the box.”

It’s a versatility that requires trust in his fellow defensive backs all the time, whether it’s covering a man or a zone, or chasing down running backs and putting pressure on quarterbacks.

“He’s more a DB than he is a linebacker because there’s not that many two-back situations where he’s inside the box,” said Eskimos linebackers coach Dan Kepley.

“The thing that’s impressed me about him this year is that he’s come in and he’s taken some control back there as far as making the communication as crystal-clear as possible.

“It’s easier to communicate with veteran ball players as in Lenny Walls and Lawrence Gordon, who have played before and you don’t have to go into a long, descriptive nature about what just happened.

“You can say one or two words and the guys get it.”

But Hill showed he doesn’t just talk the talk in their last preseason game against the B.C. Lions two weeks ago.

He returned an interception on a Casey Printers pass during B.C.’s first drive of the game to give the Eskimos offence a head start.

“Anytime you can get a turnover on defence, it’s always a plus. And it’s also a bonus on top of that when you can score,” Hill said.

“We built some momentum, we started the way we want to on defence by scoring the first touchdown.”

While they won’t be relied upon to rise above the call of duty all the time, the Eskimos defence are well on their way to walking the walk thanks to the improved confidence in their secondary.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos