Reid ready to prove himself with B.C. Lions
VANCOUVER — It did not take Jermaine Reid long to earn a spot on the B.C. Lions roster.
Now, he’s out to keep it.
After signing this week, the veteran defensive lineman will suit up Friday as the Lions (5-3) host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (4-4).
“It’s a pleasant surprise,” Reid, a 30-year-old Toronto native who was released by the Argos last week, said Thursday of his quick call to duty.
“It’s one of those things where I came here just trying to find a new place, trying to get an opportunity to play, and I’m just going to go out there and take advantage of another opportunity and try to contribute anywhere I can.”
Reid will suit up against the team that drafted him out of the University of Akron ninth overall in 2007. He played his first four CFL seasons with the Ticats before spending the 2011 and 2012 campaigns with Edmonton. The Eskimos traded him to Toronto in the off-season.
Negotiations with B.C. began almost immediately after the Argos released him in the middle of last week, and he worked out a contract before the weekend was over.
“It happened pretty quick,” said Reid. “It was kind of a whirlwind for me, but I landed on my feet — and I kept running.”
The Lions brought in Reid because of his experience and the fact defensive co-ordinator Rich Stubler and fellow defensive lineman Julius Williams know him from their season together in 2011. Reid hopes a crash course on B.C.’s defensive system will pay off against Hamilton.
“It’s a lot to take in,” said Reid, who grew up in Toronto’s Scarborough neighbourhood and lives in North Canton, Ohio, in the off-season. “Everything’s happening pretty quickly. I got out here last Monday night. I’ve been in the offices with the coaches and watching a lot of film and checking out the playbook. It’s been non-stop studying. But I got a pretty good grasp on everything.”
Friday’s contest will serve as Reid’s 2013 debut. Although he was on Toronto’s 46-man roster this season, he did not play a single game for the blue and white because he was scratched for every contest.
“I just wasn’t performing up to (coaches’) expectations,” he said. “I wasn’t doing what I needed to do in their eyes. I can’t be upset in any way. It’s part of the game. It’s what players deal with. ”
Lions coach Mike Benevides wants him to help lighten the workload of a defensive line that has used a five-man rotation in recent games. Reid, who is slated to play defensive end but also has experience inside, enables the Lions to use a six-man rotation, for the rest of the season if all goes according to plan, and reduce the risk of injury.
“Right now, we have five guys that are critical to the success of our team,” said Benevides. “And, for the most part ... those guys have done an outstanding job. If, God forbid, anything bad happens to one of them, you’re short. So getting him in is pretty important.”
Despite Reid’s lack of game action with Toronto, Benevides does not think the lineman’s fitness will be an issue, because he took part in Argo practices.
“You’re banking on the fact that he’s a veteran 30-year-old guy that’s been around a little bit, that can step in and play, that can give you snaps or whatever’s required of him,” said Benevides.
Reid’s primary assignment will be to contain Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris, who has guided the Ticats to three straight victories. Benevides also wants Reid and the rest of B.C.’s defensive unit to avoid giving up big plays late in the game.
Last week, the Montreal Alouettes staged a stunning 39-38 comeback victory over the Lions after third-string quarterback Tanner Marsh completed a 57-yard pass on the second-last play of the game to set up a game-winning field goal.
“You don’t want to walk away and jump on the plane or go in the locker-room and talk about what could have been,” said Benevides. “We’ve got to control that ourselves.”
Lions defensive back Dante Marsh said the Lions must limit Burris, who leads the CFL in passing yards with 2,454, more than 400 ahead of second-ranked Edmonton’s Mike Reilly.
“(Burris) is having a career year,” said Marsh. “Hank is always a threat, so you’ve got to try to neutralize him wherever he goes and try to get him off rhythm.”
Marsh, a three-time West Division all-star and one-time CFL all-star, was victimized on Montreal’s late long bomb last week. He is not losing sleep over it, but still wants to do better against Burris.
“I’ve made 1,000 plays,” said Marsh. “That whole play, it irritated me at the time, because I have an expectation level for myself. a So I’ve got to make the play.”
He also called for the B.C. defence to play more aggressively. In each of its past three games, the Lions have struggled to maintain leads late in the game, putting their opponents in position to pull out wins.
While the defence attempts to avoid late breakdowns, the offence will try to prevent Hamilton from hitting a high note at the ultimate time. B.C. has simplified its offence this week, focusing on core plays and a smaller number of options after being forced to settle for five field goals against Montreal.
“The point of emphasis is to just line up and play,” said quarterback Travis Lulay. “We’re not doing tricky stuff. But, we don’t have to.”
Lulay said the simplified approach will help the Lions gain traction, confidence and moment early after a sub-par performance against Montreal.
“Play-wise we’re going in with a lot of stuff that we normally would,” he said. “It would be unfair to say that we’ve dummied anything down. But I do think, conceptually, what we’re doing is the stuff that we do well and the stuff that we’ve done from the get-go.”
As a result of Reid’s insertion to the roster, special teams player Tim Cronk was moved to the practice roster.
Meanwhile, Hamilton will be without reliable receiver Sam Giguere, who has 26 receptions for 394 yards and a 15.2-yard average, after he underwent surgery to repair a broken finger suffered in practice Wednesday.