Cobourne pumped about facing Als
By MIKE THOMAS, Special to QMI Agency
|Running back Avon Cobourne scores a touchdown against the Argonauts during last year's Eastern final. Cobourne, who signed with Hamilton in the off-season, faces his former Montreal club Wednesday at Ivor Wynne Stadium. (REUTERS)
HAMILTON - When the Ticats host the Montreal Alouettes in their final pre-season game, Wednesday at Ivor Wynne Stadium, it will be the first time running back Avon Cobourne faces his former team.
Cobourne, who won two Grey Cups in his five years in Montreal, signed in Hamilton as a free agent this off-season. Rumblings suggested he didn’t feel like he was wanted by the Alouettes and the Tiger-Cats were a team that pursued him from day one of free agency.
Cobourne said on Tuesday that he has to treat this like any other game and he’s just glad to get into a real football game.
“I’m tired of hitting my own team so its good that I get to hit somebody else,” said Cobourne. “It’s the same way I would feel about playing another team.”
Before training camp Cobourne was booed by some of his former teammates when he made an appearance in Quebec to pick up his 2010 Grey Cup ring.
He admitted that in Montreal he had a few teammates he didn’t get along with but refused to mention names, insisting he isn’t going into this game with any kind of chip on his shoulder.
“It’s just another team. I’m a Ticat now so whoever is on the other side is going to get it the same way I would give it to anybody else,” said Cobourne.
One significant thing about facing the Als is the familiarity between Cobourne and his former teammates and the plays they run. After playing side by side for so long, Cobourne knows how the Montreal defence works and the Alouettes have regularly seen what Cobourne has to offer.
“I’d been with them five years so they know my strengths and they know all of my weaknesses,” said Cobourne. “(But) just as much as they know mine, I know theirs so it’s going to be a good game.”
Cobourne’s new teammate, Arland Bruce III, knows all about playing a former team, having faced the Argos a handful of times since he was traded two seasons ago.
Cobourne’s situation is different, though
“His exit was by choice, mine was by default,” said Bruce. “He’s probably feeling good right now coming off a championship and he’s looking to come here and help this team get a championship.”
Standing in Cobourne’s way is his former team who once again come into the season as favourites for the Cup, an obstacle he said he isn’t so threatened by.
The Tiger-Cats have been the team poised to challenge the Alouettes in the CFL East in each of the past two seasons and have come up short. They hope with Cobourne in the fold that this can be their year.
“I don’t think it’s a challenge for us, I think it’s a challenge for them,” said Cobourne. “I don’t think we’re a step back from anybody.”
This kind of attitude is what the Tiger-Cats were looking for along with his contributions on the field. Head coach Marcel Bellefeuille said Cobourne’s leadership was another factor that made the club go after him in the off-season.
“He brings that accountability factor that doesn’t always have to come from the coaching staff,” said Bellefeuille. “When it comes from the players, you’re going to be a better team.”
Cobourne’s been vocal on field throughout camp and helpful with more inexperienced players. His teammates have taken notice and are excited to have him with the team — with one exception.
Some Ticats have a problem with Cobourne’s apparel. The veteran has been carrying around a Montreal Alouettes backpack throughout training camp, which Bruce pointed out is the only thing his teammates aren’t impressed with.
“(He’s got to) get rid of that Alouettes bag before I get rid of it for him,” said Bruce. “I tell him every day we’re going to burn that bag, but other than that he’s cool.”