Eiben playing follow the leader for Ticats

Tiger-Cats linebacker Kevin Eiben during mini-camp at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton, Ont., April...

Tiger-Cats linebacker Kevin Eiben during mini-camp at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton, Ont., April 20, 2012. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:30 AM ET

HAMILTON - Tackles get made, interceptions are recorded and the occasional fumble, forced or otherwise, gets returned for touchdowns.

There are, needless to say, different measuring sticks in football, stats for virtually every position that either illustrates a strength or expose a deficiency, depending on how the numbers get crunched and interpreted.

When it comes to Kevin Eiben, no time in the 40-yard dash, no amount of tackles and no sack that gets produced will do justice what his presence will mean for this year's version of the Ticats.

Whether you spend one day in camp or one week, there's no making the presence Eiben commands and the leadership qualities he oozes.

If the Argos truly wanted to keep this all-time linebacker on board, every option would have been exhausted.

When they didn't, the Ticats quickly pounced on the opportunity and there's no one in The Hammer who can say anything bad about this veteran linebacker.

Given it is a pre-season backdrop, Eiben isn't expected to get many reps at linebacker, but Wednesday does mark the first time he'll be facing his former team.

As you might expect in light of his background and approach, it'll be business as usual for Eiben, who would smack heads in practice against some of Toronto's first-team offence.

"Different colours, different team, only now it's live and we've got the cameras on,'' Eiben said following Tuesday's gathering.

"I'm going to play football the way I've always played, which is to fly around sideline to sideline."

Recently married, Eiben enters his 12th season in the CFL and his first in The Hammer.

Coaches approach Eiben for input, rookies seek guidance and even the team's veteran guard has turned to Eiben for counsel.

'Make it right'

Whatever happens this season in Tiger Town, leadership should not an issue, especially with the addition of Eiben.

"I'm going on my 12th year and I just want to teach these young guys,'' he said.

"There's a lot of talent. I told these guys that during my first few years in the league you make the team through special teams.

"I've been telling them to know their role, make sure you're in the right assignment and make sure when you get a chance to make a play, you make it right."

With all that he has seen and experienced during his career, picking up a new defence hasn't been difficult for Eiben.

No coach, afterall, is going to reinvent the game, the key for any player is to understand the new terminology that's in place knowing full well the concepts are the same.

As for Wednesday night, Eiben plans on executing his same game-day routine, which begins with an early arrival to the stadium.

"When I'm in my normal clothes, I'll say hello,'' Eiben said of his former teammates.

"I'll wish them luck and tell them to stay healthy.

"On the field, it's football.

"Off the field, they'll always be my friends."

BURRIS MEETS OLD RIVAL

Henry Burris has seen plenty of Ricky Ray over the years, matching up in the pre-season, playing in front of packed houses and hooking up in the post-season.

As Burris' first season in The Hammer begins with Wednesday night's exhibition opener, he can't help but take stock of his past battles with Ray and the quarterback picture in the CFL's East.

"We're good friends,'' Smilin' Hank said of Ray, who'll make his debut in Double Blue. "Ricky's one of those guys you love to compete against.

"But regardless of who we play this year, each team has a great quarterback who can lead their teams and do big things week in and week out. It's going to be a competitive East and it starts with Ricky Ray in this first game."

Burris should start and is expected to play the entire first quarter before making way for backup Quinton Porter.

With nothing to play for in terms of wins and losses, Burris realizes the goal is to stay healthy and build on the gains his offence has made during camp.

"Timing and chemistry,'' Burris said of the areas he's locked into. "You want to come out of games like this feeling good about the offence and how we executed."

WALKER SET TO RUN HARD

With Martell Mallett out for the season and Avon Cobourne getting his feet wet, the spotlight will shine on rookie tailback Chevon Walker.

The scatback with explosive speed has looked awfully good in camp, but Wednesday night against the new-look Argos defence will mark his first game action.

Cobourne, who rejoined the club last week after Mallett underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon, needs time to learn George Cortez's offence.

Ideally, the Ticats want to see Cobourne in a game setting when Hamilton visits Winnipeg next week.

As for Mallet, Cortez said he spoke to the CFL's former top rookie and is scheduled to have a follow-up appointment with doctors in the next few days.


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