April 4, 2020

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Opportunity Knox for backup linebacker

Coach, teammates confident in athletic defender

JUSTIN SAMANSKI-LANGILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Blue Bombers linebacker Kyle Knox will start against the Toronto Argonauts on Thursday in place of the injured Ian Wild.</p>

JUSTIN SAMANSKI-LANGILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Blue Bombers linebacker Kyle Knox will start against the Toronto Argonauts on Thursday in place of the injured Ian Wild.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/7/2017 (998 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Kyle Knox will gets his first starting assignment of the season Thursday but it won’t be the job he had been auditioning for during training camp.

The 28-year-old import battled for and lost the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ middle linebacker spot to non-import Sam Hurl in pre-season, but with an arm injury suffered by weakside linebacker Ian Wild, Knox isn’t going to let the opportunity pass him by.

The task is daunting, however. Knox will have to match wits with Ricky Ray, the cagey Toronto Argonauts quarterback who is currently leading the CFL with 1,199 passing yards in three games. Ray is also completing 70.1 per cent of his throws.

Knox, presumably, could be targeted by Ray like any veteran quarterback probing for vulnerability.

"I’m hoping he does," Knox said. "I hope he does come to my side. If he does come to my side, hopefully I’ll be able to expose him and show him that just because I’m in a new position up here, doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m doing."

The 29-year-old Fresno State product insists he’s not a newbie to the position.

"First and foremost, I want Ian to heal up because he’s a vital factor for our team... I’m going into this week like any other good study prep, I’ve got Sam helping me be on the right spot on the field. He gonna be talking to me the whole time," Knox said.

"My original position in college, I always played Will (weak-side). It’s a familiar position for me. This is my first time taking any true Will reps since I’ve been here but it’s a natural position for me, so I know once I get the feel of the plays better I’ll be able to flow better."

Moving Knox to a different spot is something head coach Mike O’Shea seems very comfortable with.

"We like him a lot; we’ve had him here for some time," said O’Shea, who had Knox in his lineup 11 times in 2016. "We’re finding ways to get him on the field more and more. He’s certainly a terrific athlete, he flies around. We know that he works hard off the field, too."

Teammate Jamaal Westerman also has complete confidence in Knox.

"He should be able to play both positions," Westerman said. "He understands both positions. You need to communicate. One thing we always talk about on defence is over-communicate. If you’re thinking something, don’t be afraid to say it. Don’t keep it to yourself, don’t play ‘I got a secret.’ "

The Argonauts, Westerman admitted, present a special problem for the Blue Bombers and it has a lot to do with recently installed head coach Marc Trestman, who has stabilized the club after a chaotic, often leaderless off-season.

Trestman, who had a phenomenal run as head coach of the Montreal Alouettes from 2008 to 2012, returned north after two seasons as head coach of the NFL’s Chicago Bears and two more as the offensive co-ordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

"It’s definitely gonna be a tough task for us because their head coach, I mean, kinda invented this new CFL passing game," Westerman said. "The way the offences have been playing the last five years, 10 years, he kinda invented that. It’s going to take all 12 guys to handle what they do."

Toronto’s offence looks even scarier with the return to form of veteran receiver S.J. Green, who is second among all CFL receivers with 367 yards on 19 catches.

"S.J. is kinda the bell cow, who can really make it go," Westerman said. "It’s going to be tough to slow them down."

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Sports Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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