Bombers face Ticats' Steele curtain
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers Buck Pierce (c) is sackd by Hamilton Tiger-Cats Justin Hickman (l) and Eddie Steele during CFL action in Winnipeg, Aug. 26, 2011. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI Agency)
HAMILTON - As far as Eddie Steele is concerned, it’ll be business as usual in an unusual circumstance.
The second-year Ticat defensive lineman grew up in Winnipeg, followed the exploits of the Blue Bombers and played at Canad Inns Stadium as both a high schooler and university player.
Each visit back to the Peg brings with it the normal demands for tickets and his time, but Sunday’s visit has a different feel given it is the Eastern final.
“I know this is a business trip,’’ Steele said. “I’m not going out there to see family and friends. We’re going out there to play a football game and win a football game.
“It’s the only way I have to look at it.”
As much as he’s focused on the Blue Bombers, Steele nonetheless has to take care of the many ticket requests he’s been fielding.
“It seems everybody is hitting me up for tickets,’’ he added. “I’ve got a lot of friends and family to take care of. I’ve asked my teammates, but I’m also going to have to buy some extra.”
Steele was acquired by the Ticats with the 22nd overall pick in the 2010 draft.
In exchange, Hamilton yielded its 28th overall selection and the negotiation rights to quarterback Alex Brink.
Steele continues to evolve and has certainly made an impression on his teammates, who affectionately refer to Steele as Big Nike, a moniker that pokes fun at the width of his feet.
“He’s gotten better as the year went along,’’ starting middle linebacker and team leader Rey Williams said. “He’s going to be a good player in this league for a long time.
“He’s strong, he listens and he works hard.”
Steele and the rest of Hamilton’s run defence must be stout on Sunday.
When the teams last played on Oct. 7, Winnipeg came into the Hammer and ran roughshod in a 33-17 win.
Bombers tailback Chris Garrett exploded for 131 yards on 18 carries as Winnipeg racked up 177 yards along the ground.
“As a defence, we didn’t have our best game for sure,’’ Steele said. “Give him (Garrett) credit. He’s a good running back. He’s shifty.
“This week, we’re focused and we’re going to come out and execute our job.”
Steele realizes it’ll be cold and windy, which means the run will be featured.
“In conditions like that, there’s going to be a lot of running,’’ Steele added. “I anticipate Garrett getting a lot of touches.
“I grew up in that weather and it’s not going to faze me. Chilly, windy, once you’re out there, there’s nothing much you can do.
“You just got to suck it up, bite the bullet and do your thing.”