THE fire in Korey Banks won’t really start burning until the first game of the season, when bodies clash for real and results mean something.
That’s when fans will get to see the other side of the Bombers linebacker, the one he called "the angry me."
So far, that guy hasn’t been here yet. For the first five days of training camp and for the weeks beyond, Banks is hanging chill, trying not to do too much.
That’s only practical, for a guy gearing up for his 11th pro season. At 34, Banks is the most senior player on the roster, a full two years and three days older than the next eldest, offensive lineman Steve Morley. And football ain’t easy on the body.
Besides, though they have him pencilled in at strong-side linebacker for now, it’s no secret that the Bombers were interested in Banks as much for his heart and mind, as for his legs. That’s why they grabbed him in an off-season trade from the B.C. Lions.
‘Try to just make it healthy to the regular season. In training camp, it’s all about making it through. I know they haven’t seen me 100 per cent, but I do more talking to the defensive backs on the side, getting them to understand the game. Just getting to know each other’s personalities. That’s just natural for me’ br> — Bombers LB Korey Banks
That’s why they signed him up.
"I do enough," Banks said, chatting on the field after Thursday practice. "Try to just make it healthy to the regular season.
In training camp, it’s all about making it through. I know they haven’t seen me 100 per cent, but I do more talking to the defensive backs on the side, getting them to understand the game. Just getting to know each other’s personalities. That’s just natural for me."
Culture change, that elusive thing, is hard to quantify or even to pin down.
Maybe this is where it begins, with vets polishing their battle scars in front of the spitfire twentysomething kids. Or, just winners talking about winning.
"You got a lot of guys, not just myself in here," Banks said, then listed all the incoming Bombers who have their Grey Cup rings, guys such as linebacker E.J. Kuale, receiver Nick Moore and quarterback Drew Willy.
"We’ve been a part of championship teams. We know the process, we’ve been around it. A lot of us had key things to do with being winners, so it’s just that little small things win ball games."
To that end, Banks has been watching the training camp defence adapt to incoming defensive co-ordinator Gary Etcheverry’s system, one that Banks finds a little more flexible than ones he is used to.
"It’s more of like... players, if you’re out there, get it done," Banks said. "It’s kind of a little more ability for people to make individual decisions other than a few people making calls.
"The system I come from, there was only a few people that could obviously change the play, and make a call. Not too many could do that. But here? If you see something, and everybody else sees something, you have the ability to make the change.
And you do it."
Mistakes, well, there will always be at least a few.
If there’s an identity for this defence, Banks sees it as one that can roll with the punches.
"You make a mistake? You gotta get the next play," he said. "Mistakes happen, you just have to learn from them every week.
It’s going to be an 18-game grind no matter we’re 17-0, or we’re 8-8, or 8-7, whatever.
Or 10-6. It’s going to be an 18-grind, long season, and you gotta take it one game at a time."
Can’t help but notice, a reporter said, that none of those numbers Banks tossed out represent a losing record.
"Oh no, no, no, that losing thing," Banks said, almost spitting out the L-word. "I don’t see personally us winning only four games, I just don’t see that. I have never been a part of nothing like that. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but I look at the talent around the league, and I match it up, from what I’m used to seeing. We’re just as talented, if not a bit more talented than every team in the league."
Then he started listing off what he sees as the Bombers’ areas of strength, hands punctuating each note. Bits of torn athletic tape still dangled from his fingers.
Special teams — "I don’t know a special team that’s better" — and the defensive secondary come to mind. "Man for man, I don’t see nobody in the league that has a man-for-man better secondary. So we have things to build on, and it’s going to be a long process. To be continued."