WINNIPEG -– Officially, James Patrick recorded the tackle in the CFL stats book, but Arkee Whitlock was the one who delivered the hit.
On their opening drive last Saturday, the Eskimos running back made the Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back pay the price to finish the play, lowering his shoulder into the defender.
“For me, I felt like I delivered the blow because I could have easily just tried to make a move and go around,” said the five-foot-10, 210-pound Whitlock. “Sometimes when I get into open field, I like to try to be physical. Especially with defensive backs, you kind of want to play with those guys’ heads.
“They kind of don’t know what you’re going to do. I like to be physical. There may be a few times where they’re expecting to be physical and I’ll just finesses — I’ll make a move and go around him.”
But it’s more than mind tricks and guessing games for Whitlock.
“It’s just me setting up, marking my territory knowing that when I come back through there they can expect more things from me,” he said.
“I’m a small guy but I’m pretty compact, I don’t mind the contact and every now and then I’ll get physical.”
That attitude comes despite watching former Eskimos running back Jesse Lumsden lose the entire 2009 season, and eventually his job with the Eskimos, after taking a more physical approach to rushing the ball.
“I don’t really think like that,” Whitlock said.
“If I deliver the blow, then I’m not too worried about receiving one. I rely on my feet a lot, my feet keep me out of trouble and guys don’t often get too many hits on me.”