Forget Als, Ticats are team to beat in the East, says RB

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:27 PM ET

HAMILTON -- Avon Cobourne has thrown down the gauntlet.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats newest offensive weapon made it clear on Thursday that he believes his current employer is the team to beat in the CFL this season.

When asked if he thought the Ticats were ready to knock the two-time defending champions off their pedestal, Cobourne literally went on the offensive.

"You phrased that wrong," Cobourne said sternly. "Is Montreal ready to challenge us in this division? I think we're the team to beat and everybody else feels the same way. If you don't, you're wrong.

"I just want to win. I want to win my third Grey Cup in a row."

Those are pretty strong words, but it's clear Cobourne is qualified to make bold statements such as that, having played a big role in each of the past two Montreal Alouettes championship victories.

It's clear a lack of confidence won't be an issue for the Ticats, who were 9-9 last season and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Toronto Argonauts.

When Cobourne's comments were relayed to receiver Arland Bruce III, the veteran was quick to stand behind his new teammate.

"If he says that, I believe that and I'm going to ride with that ," said Bruce III. "Avon is coming off a championship season and to have a championship mentality, you definitely want to feed off of that.

"We're going to find out, but from what I gather through training camp, it's a fresh team that is competitive."

Defensive end Stevie Baggs said that in order to become a champion, you have to act like one on a daily basis and believe you can reach the pinnacle.

"We have a great vibe here and that's the main thing you want to keep," said Baggs. "The level of our goals and our expectations are different than last season. Going 9-9, that's not good enough. Our goals have to be much greater in order for the outcome to be greater.

"There's no doubt about it. Our actions will definitely determine it."

As for the suggestion that the Ticats are the team to beat in the East, Blue Bombers defensive back Jovon Johnson wasn't all that amused.

"Everybody has their own opinion and he's a guy who likes to talk, so of course (Cobourne would say that considering he's on Hamilton's team," said Johnson. "If he was on Montreal, he's say Montreal was the team to beat. When you're the champion, you're always going to be the team to beat and the team with the bulls-eye on their back.

"At this point, Hamilton hasn't really been the team to beat yet, so for him to make that statement, that's just his opinion. At the same time, everybody is closing the gap on Montreal. Every team in the East is getting better and better as the days go by. It's going to be a challenge for everybody and I look forward to it."

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