Argos vets transition into new roles

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:08 PM ET

If Jordan Younger had a personal, friendly nickname for Orlondo Steinauer, he’s probably going to stop using it.

When the Argonauts veterans begin training-camp workouts on Sunday morning in Mississauga, most of them will remember what it was like to play alongside Steinauer and Mike O’Shea.

Friendships were formed and bonds that only teammates know were made with Steinauer and O’Shea, who most recently played for the Argos in 2008.

Now, Steinauer is the defensive-backs coach.

O’Shea is the special-teams co-ordinator.

They can’t really be considered pals anymore.

“Definitely going to have to change the way we interact,” said Younger, who will work closely with Steinauer.

“Now he is in a coaching role, and I am a player. When he was a free safety, he lined us up and told us where to go. In that sense, it won’t be much different, but the level of detail he brings will be a lot different than what we have had.”

Cornerback Byron Parker probably won’t be able to get enough of Steinauer as coach.

Parker loves to step up into the play and make interceptions, a quality that helped put food on Steinauer’s table during his playing days.

The Argos made a CFL-low 11 interceptions last year, 20 less than the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who led the league with 31.

If the philosophy under the former coaching staff was for defensive backs to put their backs to the ball, expect it to change.

“Steinauer taught me how to play the game,” Parker said.

“They always say a scared defensive back never makes any plays. Well, we are going to be allowed to make those plays.

“I have been so used to having (Steinauer and O’Shea) on the sideline — but to not have them in uniform — I think that is going to be the difficult thing. But it’s good for the guys, because they know what it takes to be a pro.”

For linebacker Willie Pile, the effect that Steinauer and O’Shea should have on the players as coaches is fairly simple.

“We needed guys like them who have played this game at a high level for a long time,” Pile said.

Steinauer doesn’t see that it will be an issue to go from coach to buddy with Parker, Younger and other players in the Argos secondary that he knows well.

“The transition will be no problem,” Steinauer said.

“Right now, they’re fighting for jobs, and a friend might not make it. Once the season starts, I hope they will respect me as a man first and as a coach.

“The good thing is I know their strengths and weaknesses as players.”

Another aspect that will help iron out the wrinkles in the transition is Steinauer and O’Shea, one of the more durable linebackers of his generation, used to have a large role in running defensive meetings.

Those who are seasoned vets now — Parker, Younger, Willie Pile, Kevin Eiben — at one time took instruction from the pair.

Indeed, the larger transition for Steinauer and O’Shea could be accepting the fact that they’re so close to the field, but will have to stop when they get to that wide white sideline.

That, along with the reality that coaches are at the practice facility before the players arrive and remain there long after the players depart for the day.

“I hadn’t missed it, but then there was competition during the team period (in rookie camp), and the offence and defence got into a little bit of bickering,” Steinauer said.

“I looked over at Osh and said, ‘Do you miss this?’ And he just said, ‘Oh yeah.’ ”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca


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