Leading the ball hawkin'

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:36 AM ET

Chris Thompson has doubled his interception production from last season.

While two might not sound that impressive, it's two more than the Eskimos had at this point last year.

"Two intercept ions in straight games, but I'd trade it in right now for some wins, that's most important right now," said the defensive half, who was traded by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in exchange for receiver Maurice Mann.

Thompson had just one interception last year, which came on the heels of a breakout season to lead the Ticats with nine picks in 2008.

"I didn't get too much action last year because of my '08 season," said Thompson, whom opposing quarterbacks steered clear of afterwards. "That's expected, though, you get nine picks and teams are going to go away from you.

"I did kind of taper off last year, but we did have a better season overall than the year before, so I'd take that any day of the week."

Thompson helped the Ticats reach the playoffs for the first time since 2005 before coming to Edmonton in the off-season.

And now, back in Edmonton where he began his career in 2007 before moving on to Hamilton, Thompson has traded in a black and gold No. 26 jersey for a green and gold No. 29. The change seems to have helped quarterbacks forget what a ball hawk he has been in the past.

"Maybe that's what it is, I changed from 26 to 29 and they're not familiar with me anymore," he joked. "But if I keep getting picks and we start winning games, it will change."

It's already quite a change from last season, where a vastly different-looking Eskimos secondary went seven games before getting their first interception.

"I remember that, they got their first one against me in Hamilton last year," said Thompson, who recalls how former Eskimos defensive back Bobby Keyes finally broke the streak. "They got some playmakers in the secondary and I'm just looking forward to going on more of an upside these next few weeks and start making more plays."

In one off-season of reconstruction, the Eskimos have so far been able to turn around a secondary that gave up the most passing yardage in 2009 into a less charitable group that currently leads the CFL in fewest net passing yards allowed with 693 -- ahead of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' 723.

"The guys up front are getting pressure and we're holding it down in the back end," Thompson said.

"We've got some veteran guys in the back end who know the game and it's helping us out tremendously right now."

And any chance Thompson gets to give the ball back to his offence with an interception, he is going to take it.

"I've been blessed to have a few interceptions in my career," he said. "That's part of my game, when a ball is in the air I feel like it's mine so I go and attack it."


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