Anthony's a Cannon on defence

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:21 PM ET

There’s nothing subtle in the way Anthony Cannon plays football, no secret for his success, no reason to believe that he’s some flash in the pan.

With so much attention placed on the Argos’ offensive woes, lost has been the emergence of Cannon, a revelation at linebacker who piled up 11 tackles in last Friday’s 40-17 setback to the host Montreal Alouettes.

A playmaker who can do just about anything on the field if asked, Cannon has found a niche in three-down football where being undersized is not an issue.

“Speed has always been my game and this game allows me to use my strengths to their fullest,’’ said Cannon, who can line up at any linebacking position. “I like using my aggression, I like running around and hitting people.

“With the CFL being such a passing game, you run around a lot more.”

Cannon reached a career cross roads two years ago when he was released by the NFL’s Detroit Lions.

The passion to play football hadn’t completely disappeared, but it was challenged.

Cannon then turned to his alma mater, Stephenson High in Atlanta, where his love of the game was revived.

Serving as a linebackers coach, Cannon began to impart all of the football lessons he learned and all of life’s experiences gleaned from playing sports.

All the fundamentals he taught remain strong each time he takes to the field, whether it’s running to every ball, never taking a play off and being in the right position to make a play.

During his time at the high school level, Cannon became a dad.

“I gave up on football for a minute,’’ said Cannon, whose wonky shoulder and Detroit’s 0-16 season forced him to look within. “I never lost the love for football, but through my experiences in life, becoming a father, I realized there was life after football.”

No matter how long he decides to play at the professional level, there’s also something to fall back on for Cannon.

By his own estimates, Stephenson High, which also produced Argos DB Byron Parker, Cannon figures seven products are in the NFL.

In his two years at the program, the school sent 31 seniors to D-1 programs.

Under his watch, Cannon says six of his linebackers secured D-1 scholarships.

“He’s a great football player,’’ Argos head coach Jim Barker said of Cannon. “He’s a great tackle to tackle linebacker.

“He can rush (the passer), drop into coverage, he’s physical. He brings a presence.”

Barker recalls how Cannon persevered through a hamstring injury and a broken finger to crack the roster.

DON’T DROP THE BALL

For Chad Kackert, last week’s indoctrination in a meaningful game was as painful as it was educational.

As much as he envisioned what it would be like lining up in a regular season game, the actual experience could not be simulated.

“Experience is the best teacher,’’ Kackert said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-round pick in the NFL or a free agent coming into the CFL, it’s a different game, it’s a different speed. There’s nothing like it and you don’t know until you get hit in the face.

“I’ve been hit in the face a few times and now I know, so I can learn from it.”

It was one of those good games, bad games for Kackert, a game rookies have to experience, no matter how painful the lessons.

For the second straight week, Kackert will line up at tailback in the Argos backfield for an injured Cory Boyd, whose strained knee will keep him out of the lineup.

After watching Kackert, it’s obvious the kid can play. He’s no that upright runner like Boyd, but Kackert runs hard and plays to the whistle.

It’s obvious the Argos need to establish a run game, which means Kackert will have a chance to atone from last week’s two-fumble game in Montreal.

“Typical rookie,’’ head coach Jim Barker said of Kackert. “He has to clean up the bad stuff and make the good stuff better.

“He’s a good football player, but you can’t make the mistakes he made to be a good football team.”

Kackert knows that better ball security must be embraced.

“It’s amazing how you spend all this time getting these complex plays down and theories, working on this professional stuff, but if you don’t hold on to the football, you’re not going to win.”

As far as Kackert is concerned, his first game amounted to two games in one.

“In the first half, everything was moving so fluidly,’’ he added. “Something went off in the second half. Those guys (Als defenders) were hitting and were violent. It was a completely different game. I got to taste what it’s like to be successful and what it’s like not to be successful.”

More than anything, it would prove a lesson in hard knocks.

FRIEND OR CONSULTANT?

A familiar face dropped by Argoland on Tuesday, a face many viewed as the beginning of change.

But when he faced the media following his team’s workout, head coach Jim Barker assured everyone who would listen that the presence of John Jenkins would not signal any upheaval.

In today’s media world where jumping the gun is as common as players going offside, where getting facts straight first is secondary, more than a few reporters were claiming Jenkins had been hired as a consultant.

“No,’’ said Barker. “He’s a friend of mine and I invite friends of mine to come out. He’s a smart football guy and he came to practice to stand by me.”

Jenkins, who previously coached with Barker in Toronto, was carrying a note pad as he watched the Argos practise.

Barker was asked why Jenkins was holding a play book.

“It was a note book,’’ he said. “He was taking down notes. There’s nothing more than that. He came to check out what we were doing.”

Jenkins was known in the CFL for his passing game, which, oddly enough, is the Argos’ biggest concern.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


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