Re-positioning of Pile paying off

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:49 PM ET

The re-positioning of Willie Pile to free safety paid off immediately on Sunday morning.

During the Argonauts’ first official training-camp workout, Pile stepped up and made an interception, snaring a Dalton Bell pass to the joyous whoops of the Argos defence.

Pile, the Argos’ sam linebacker last season, and an effective one at that, has been asked by the coaching staff be the Argos’ on-field guide when they don’t have the ball.

“We want a guy back there to be a general,” head coach Jim Barker said.

“We want a guy who can direct everybody where to go.

“That position is going to be a run support guy, which is something Willie can do. He is a guy who comes off the edge, which Willie can do. We just felt like it was the right place for him.”

Pile wasn’t about to argue.

He is entering his fourth season in Toronto, and the transition won’t be too jarring for a guy who is one of the Argos’ better athletes.

What’s more, Pile has been a safety before, six years ago with the Dallas Cowboys.

The trust the coaching staff has put in Pile is something he intends to return right away.

“They’re saying they need someone to be a leader back there and I think it speaks more to the character of the coaching staff and what they see in me,” Pile said, smiling on what otherwise was a dreary, grey morning at the team’s Erindale training facility.

“At free safety, you make your own action. What I am learning is I have to go and make the play. At sam linebacker, the action came to me.”

Orlondo Steinauer played the position as well as anybody during his CFL career. He now is the Argos’ defensive-backs coach, but Pile learned from him years ago.

“It got to the point where he was studying the offence, because he knew the defence so well,” Pile said. “That’s where I want to get to.”

It’s not to say Pile has the job, no questions asked.

Dwaine Carpenter, acquired from the Calgary Stampeders, has arrived in camp after clearing up a passport issue (in that he found it after misplacing it), and rookie Jeremy Unertl has opened some eyes.

But in reality, it’s Pile’s job to lose. And if he does it properly, ensures that his teammates in the secondary are where they should be to make plays, his work will be much easier.

“Be that communicator, that aggressor,” Pile said.

“The trust is how you build brotherhood.”

The moving of Pile to safety opened a hole at linebacker, and non-import Jason Pottinger was taking starting reps on Sunday.

The same went for Jordan Younger, who until now has been a cornerback for half a dozen years. Kevin Eiben, at will linebacker, is the incumbent. Zeke Moreno was released in February.

Pottinger has been a solid special-teams performer and a backup linebacker in four CFL seasons and wants the responsibility of being a starter.

“I feel like I am the guy and I’m ready to prove it,” Pottinger said.

“I feel confident. I’ve been trying to be a sponge, picking Kevin Eiben’s brain apart. I know the coaches are going to pick the best guys and I hope I am among that group.”

Said Barker when asked about Pottinger: “He has paid his dues. It’s time for him to step up.”

And as for that Pile interception? He had three last year and doesn’t think it was good enough.

“I was really happy to get my hands on that ball,” Pile said. “At free safety, I get to see what the quarterback sees, and I can pick my point.

“It’s a good sign when I do it on the first day.”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca


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