If you had known which player Robert Bean was covering in practice, it would have come as no surprise to see how well he handled himself last week in his CFL debut against the vaunted Edmonton Eskimos receiving corps.
Bean, who has 19 games of NFL experience with the Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars, gave credit to a Winnipeg Blue Bombers legend for helping him prepare for his first game action north of the border.
"When I first got here, going against Milt Stegall was my first big challenge," said Bean, who finished with five tackles and a key interception and earned himself another start tomorrow against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (6 p.m., CJOB, TSN). "He teaches you a lot, a lot of the little things that people don't know about on the field. Certain techniques. You learn a lot from Milt."
Stegall has first-hand knowledge of Bean's skill-set.
'WORK YOU HARD'
"In practice, I don't care who I'm going against, I'm going to work you hard," said Stegall. "He was out there working hard. He's one of the better athletes I've seen in this league but he had to learn how to play the position. I don't care how fast, how strong, how high you can jump, if you don't know how to play it, you can't play it.
"I told him about reading angles and not only reading my route, but trying to see what the other guy is doing and that's going to help you read me. He's learning a lot and he's doing some great things for this team."
Bean's other professional experience includes a couple stints in the Arena Football League, so he's seen a nice variety.
What was the biggest adjustment his first CFL game?
"Speed of the game," said Bean. "The speed of the game here is fast, but the plays last longer and you have to really stay with your man longer than in the NFL."
Halfback Anthony Malbrough, one of the key cogs in Winnipeg's secondary, said Bean handled himself well under tough circumstances, filling in for Omar Evans.
"When a guy like Omar goes down, you need somebody to step up and that's what (Bean) did," said Malbrough. "There's pretty much no other way to explain it. He stepped up, made plays and filled in great for us.
"You knew Edmonton was going to throw the ball and test him. That's the thing about the CFL. If they see somebody they want to go at, they will constantly go at him. But he held up well though and that's the good thing."
Bean, a fifth round pick (133rd overall) of the Bengals in 2000, knew full well the Eskimos would be challenging him.
"I knew they'd be coming at me all game, eventually I'm going to make a play," said Bean. "Don't try me too many times, I'm going to do something."
Bean is expecting plenty of work against the speedy Tiger-Cats receivers again this week.
"I know they love to throw the ball all day, so we'll be ready," said Bean.
Blue Bombers head coach Doug Berry said an injury prevented Bean from competing for a starting job out of training camp, but that he had full confidence in him when he returned to full health.
"He's been doing a great job since he's been here, we noticed him in his coverage skills," said Berry, noting Bean and Evans would start on the corner this week. "Many times he was covering (Ed) Hervey and (Jason) Tucker and his coverage was good. I'm not going to put a percentage on it but it was pretty good."