'Gade defender a big hit in July

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Anthony Collier has gone from the practice roster to poster boy.

The second-year Renegades defensive end reacted with surprise yesterday when he was named the CFL's top lineman for July.

"It feels good because there's a lot of people out there playing in this league and it could have went to any one of us," Collier said after practice at Frank Clair Stadium.

He wasn't up against a bunch of slouches for the honour, either, beating out the likes of Edmonton sack specialist Rashad Jeanty and Calgary's Demetrious Maxie.

FIVE SACKS

Collier began the month with an outstanding effort on July 8 in Vancouver, recording five sacks during a loss to the B.C. Lions.

And he ended it with a big play last Friday in Regina during a win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders. After intercepting a Nealon Greene pass, he returned it 45 yards before flipping it over his head to Kyries Hebert who went the remaining 22 yards for a touchdown.

It was an important score for the Renegades because, after the convert, it gave Ottawa a nine-point cushion heading into the fourth quarter at Taylor Field.

INJURED KNEE

At the start of the year, Collier wasn't sure he'd have a chance to make plays like that. He hurt a knee during training camp, got cut and was added to the practice roster.

"I was thinking about giving it two weeks and see how it goes," the 25-year-old recalled. "Then I got player of the week and now player of the month. It feels good."

The league named Collier lineman of the week after his five-sack performance against B.C., which tied a CFL record.

"It's one thing to get it for a week, but to get it for a month is an indication of his play throughout," said Renegades coach Joe Paopao.

"It's a combination of things -- his teammates and some strong coaching -- but ultimately he's got to go out there and do those things."

Even yesterday, Collier spoke about watching video of the Vancouver and Regina games, looking for ways to bring his game up a notch or two.

"He's got the ability and it's always the good ones that are looking for the little things to upgrade their performance," said Paopao. "It's one of the reasons why he's here and he's taken advantage of an opportunity."

The Renegades held their final practice in Ottawa before tomorrow night's game vs. the 0-5 Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Collier said it will be strange to see former Ottawa defender Airabin Justin wearing Ticat black and yellow. He also became friends with Tony White, who joined the Ticats after being cut by the Renegades.

"It's a game that we need to win," said Collier, whose team could improve to 4-3 with a victory. "We just need to go out there and do our business so we can come out on top."


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