August 10, 2019

Tackling Magnet

Think of Cory Greenwood as a six-foot/two-inch high, 235-pound magnet and the various and sundry ball carriers that stick to him as iron filings.

“I left a couple out there, too,’’ sighed the Calgary Stampeders middle linebacker of his prolific 12-tackle night at IG Field on Thursday.

“I missed, I think, three. So I could’ve – should’ve – had 15 tackles, I guess.

“But that’s just their game plan. That’s what they do as an offence. They’re one-read then check the ball down to (Andrew) Harris and (Nik) Demski or maybe (Chris) Matthews on a drag. So I got in on a lot of plays.

“We were getting back into coverage and taking their looks away. And we did a good of getting the ball to go where we wanted.

“But we’ve still got to be better on the check-downs and stuff so we get off the field quicker.

“All in all, though, I thought we played a pretty decent, pretty solid, game.”

Decent enough, solid enough, to deny the homestanding Winnipeg Blue Bombers nary an offensive touchdown. The Stamps may have been tripped up 26-24 in a mid-season battle for the West penthouse, but the defensive resistance certainly did its bit.

“Obviously were in kind of a bend-but-don’t-break mode yesterday,’’ agreed head knock Dave Dickenson Sunday at McMahon Stadium, as his group broke ranks for three days of down time.

“(The Bombers) were just very conservative. They didn’t push the ball down the field at all. They kept checking it down, checking it down, then running.

“Our guys did rise up and make plays when they had to, kept their poise when there was extra stuff going on.

“To be honest, offensively and defensively we played well enough to win, IF the offence cuts the turnover out and we play better on teams.”

Those dozen tackles accumulated raised the Kingston, Ont.-born Greenwood’s total to 61, tops in the CFL at the moment, with a full 10 games remaining on the dance card.

The Stampeder season record, BTW, stands at 123, set in both 2017 and 2018 by Greenwood pal and predecessor in the middle, Alex Singleton, now, of course, of the NFL Philadelphia Eagles.

Singleton’s tally is also the league hallmark for any non-import player, since defensive stats started being recorded back in 1987.

In replacing Singleton, Greenwood, the 34-year-old former Kansas City Chief, has quickly become a mainstay in first-year co-ordinator Brent Monson’s defensive umbrella.

It’s always infinitely more enjoyable, individually, being counted on.

“And,’’ interjects Greenwood, “we’re good.

“In Toronto, we weren’t any good. To be on the field all game, have a bunch of tackles and still lose games … well, you’re just sore, and it sucks.

“Then when I got to Edmonton I tore my ACL right away, first day of camp. That sucked, too.

“Here, we’re a good team, getting better, with a chance to do great things.

“So this is the most fun I’ve had in the CFL. For sure.

“As a player, I think I’m seeing the field better. I’m anticipating better, understanding concepts better. J.C. (linebacking coach Sherritt) has done a real good job with us, preparing us for what we’re going to see every week.

“So I’m more detailed in my drops than I can remember. In Toronto, I can’t remember us being as detailed. That’s not a knock on Toronto. Different organizations do different things. And maybe I’m just learning better here than I did there.

“I’ve been playing 10 years, too. How often do you hear: ‘I wish I’d know what I do now when I was younger’?”

At Greenwood’s current rate of takedowns, even toying with the CFL record of 144 set by B.C.’s Solomon Elimimian a couple of years back will take some doing.

Still, Singleton’s franchise standard would appear to find itself in at least preliminary peril.

“If at the end of the year we’re in the playoffs and I’ve got 124 tackles or something like that … yeah, it’d be cool,’’ acknowledges Greenwood.

“Alex is one of my boys. We talk all the time. He’s a great player. It’d be fun on our calls to be able to say: ‘Gotcha by one.’

“But there’s still such a long way to go.”