Ticats Thigpen an ‘explosive’ player

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:07 AM ET

He is a one-man, three-pronged attack.

Last week, Hamilton's Marcus Thigpen led the Tiger-Cats with 273 all-purpose yards in the Eastern semifinal versus the defending Grey Cup champion Alouettes in Montreal.

Thigpen can be a game-changer at running back and receiver, but he is most dangerous as a kick returner. He returned seven kickoffs for 171 yards against the Als and added another 29 on three punt returns.

Suffice to say, Thigpen makes the Winnipeg Blue Bombers special teams nervous when they prepared for the CFL East Final on Sunday afternoon.

"He is a kid who is very explosive," Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice said Saturday. "The thing he does maybe better than anyone this season is when there is a person who's in a position to make a tackle on him -- or two people -- he makes them miss. You can have all the guys in the right spot, they can be in the right lanes, and if he makes them miss he's going 40 yards.

"We have done a very good job in our cover units this year. We've got some very talented kids down there. They have to do it one more time. It's hard, because he's talented."

Thigpen returned one kickoff and a missed field goal for touchdowns against Winnipeg last year, but the Bombers have limited his returns this season.

"Thigpen's a really good player," said Bombers linebacker Henoc Muamba, who recorded 15 special teams tackles in only 11 games this year. "But we feel like we're confident in our gameplan and we'll keep him check.

"He's a great athlete. He's really fast. He can make up things even on his own sometimes when the blocking scheme on their end doesn't work out. We definitely want to keep him in check and do our jobs to the best of our ability. We have to do our assignments and we have some keys that we've been looking at after watching a lot of film and just do our own jobs, and not the next man's job."

Backup safety Brady Browne was added to the roster after recovering from injury to help those cover units.

"You have to be honest in your lanes and you have to come down, pursue him and not do other people's jobs for them," Browne said. "You have to gang-tackle him. You have to wrap up and you have to come in and be the second, third, fourth guy to bring him down. You watch the film, he doesn't get brought down by the first guy so, you have to go out and gang-tackle him."

Thigpen is relishing all three roles these days.

"My role is to do whatever they need me to do, whether it's returns, receiver or running back so, whatever the coach needs me to do, I'm going to do my best to help the team get to the Grey Cup," he said. "I've had some pretty good games (against the Bombers). It's just one of those things where I've got a feel for them. I study them a lot."


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