Eiben turned inside-out

Toronto Argonauts' Kevin Eiben is moving to outside linebacker this season. (Toronto Sun...

Toronto Argonauts' Kevin Eiben is moving to outside linebacker this season. (Toronto Sun File/Veronica Henri)

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

Argos linebacker Kevin Eiben can identify with the phrase "change is a good thing."

The versatile B.C. native, who has augmented his role in each of his first five seasons from a backup to a full-time starter who also holds for field goals, has been moved to outside linebacker from inside linebacker.

Eiben learned of the move in February from defensive co-ordinator Rich Stubler.

"It's no big deal at all. Basically, we have to learn all four (linebacker) positions anyway," Eiben said. "I'm very familiar with all four. Stubs wanted to move me (to the outside) because I'm versatile and we're doing different schemes this year for defence and it's going to work out well with the new talent that we have coming in."

Eiben has been named the East Division's Outstanding Canadian in each of the past two seasons. Two years ago, he led the Canadian Football League with 110 defensive tackles and became the third Argonaut and first non-import in franchise history to eclipse the century mark. Last year, he tied for first in the league with 113 defensive tackles.

But this year the Argos are planning to move a bigger body into the four-man linebacking corps. Newcomer Jeff Kelly, an import who weighs about 20-25 pounds more than Eiben and is a pure run-stopper, moves into Eiben's spot. Eiben shifts to the import spot formerly occupied by Antonious Bonner, whose season was cut short last year by knee surgery. Either Bonner, Chuck Winters or Bo Lewis is expected to replace Kelly in passing situations.

Eiben sees no reason why the latest change should cause his defensive tackles to decline.

"I think this is going to help my opportunity to get more tackles," he said. "On the outside, I'm going to have less people in my face so I can just go and be free to the ball.

"I can't project (the number of tackles) because every year is different, but I'm learning a new position, I'm getting familiar with seeing a different side of the field and the more comfortable I get I think I'll be able to have some high numbers."

THE CHOP BLOCK

Linebacker Lee Woodall, a two-time Pro Bowler with the San Francisco 49ers, was among six players given their release yesterday by the Argos. The 36-year-old had not played in a regular-season game in four years.

Jaco Booyens, the former South African rugby player, also was cut after a disappointing outing in the Argos' 31-3 loss on Friday to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The only other player of note to go was third-year Argo Kris Aiken.


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