Forbes battles to make Ticats
By MIKE THOMAS, Special to QMI Agency
|Rookie defensive tackle Maurice Forbes is trying to crack the Ticats lineup straight out of Montreal's Concordia University. (MIKE HARDILL/Ticats.ca)
HAMILTON - After being taken by the Tiger-Cats 13th overall in this year’s CFL draft, defensive tackle Maurice Forbes is learning what it takes to be a pro.
Coming out of Concordia, Forbes has been handed the task of making the adjustments from playing CIS football to grinding it out on the field with established CFL veterans every day. This is something that at times has been tough for the 23-year-old.
“I continue to get better every day,” Forbes said. “I take my mess-ups personally and every day I try to work on things that I lacked in the previous practice.”
Coming straight out of the Canadian university system gives Forbes more of a learning curve than other rookies, who have played in some of the NCAA’s top divisions and in NFL camps in some cases. A major thing he’s had to get used to is the tempo of the pro game.
“I think the speed of the game for all the young players is something that you have to react to,” said head coach Marcel Bellefeuille. “It’s just a matter of slowing things down.”
Forbes’ physical play has been right where the team would like it to be at this point.
“Sometimes he still looks like a CIS player out there and there’s other times where he looks like he’s making strides to become a pro football player,” said defensive coordinator Corey Chamblin. “He needs to be more consistent doing the little things right, every play has to be full speed and you can’t take a play off.”
Forbes knows to make the team he can’t rely purely on his physical abilities.
“Technique is vital,” said Forbes. “You can be as athletic as you want to be but without the proper technique you’re not going to be lasting in this league very long.”
At 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, it was easy for Forbes to dominate in the CIS playing against guys he could toss around. Training with the Tiger-Cats he’s been matched against an offensive line he can’t cut through so easily.
“Everyone’s bigger than me, everyone’s fast and everyone’s strong,” said Forbes.
As Forbes continues to learn and improve he might get more chances to make an impact with the team. Veterans on the defensive line Justin Hickman and Stevie Baggs missed practice Wednesday with minor injuries. If a similar situation arises in the season it will be up to Forbes and other rookies like Eddie Steele to step up.
Veterans like Baggs have liked what they’ve seen from the rookie crop in camp.
“I’m impressed because they came here and their work ethic’s been great,” said Baggs, who’s going into his sixth CFL season. “As long as you have people that are willing to learn they’re going to get better.”
If Forbes breaks camp having made the team, it’ll be based on what he’s done in the preseason and not his status as a high pick in this year’s draft.
“At the end of the day, you can be a (top) pick but if you’re not playing well you’re going to get dropped pretty quickly,” Forbes said.