WINNIPEG — Maurice Leggett may be a CFL rookie, but he’s been around professional football since 2008.
That’s long enough to have played in a lot of different schemes, and he says he likes the feel of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ new-look defence.
“It’s fun to me, it’s like ‘Hey, look what I can do now’,” the member of Winnipeg’s secondary said after practice Tuesday.
“It’s a fun defence. The best way to play is having fun.”
The bible according to defensive co-ordinator Gary Etcheverry is know what your neighbour does and be prepared to do it yourself, whenever and wherever necessary.
“I have to learn the entire defence just in case something happens, or I have to direct someone that doesn’t know what to do as well as I know the defence,” said Leggett, who could be returning to the lineup in Vancouver Friday, after being out with an ankle injury since July 3.
He’s healthy again at the right time, with a question mark hanging over an injured Johnny Sears for Friday’s tilt against the surging B.C. Lions.
“He seems like a pretty smart football player,” said head coach Mike O’Shea.
“He’s smooth, smooth, smooth out there. He’s competitive. He can do a bunch of different things. We were pretty happy with Moe Leggett from the get-go so its not a stretch to see him in there.”
O’Shea says his versatility is exactly what the Bombers want.
“These guys got to know the goal is, by some point during the season, they know everything about every position,” O’Shea said. “That’s how they meet, that’s how they talk.”
The other side to Etcheverry’s defence is dictate the play with a healthy side of unpredictability.
It’s not quite freelance, said Leggett.
“You have a structure to it but the structure is communication more than anything. . . We’re not there yet completely but we’re on the verge of making a lot of progress.”
At five-foot-eleven and 186 pounds, Leggett came to the Bombers from the Arena Football League, after stints with Kansas City and Detroit in the NFL.
Signed by the Chiefs in 2008, Leggett won the Mack Lee Hill Award as the team’s top rookie, the first undrafted player to win the award. He started eight games for Kansas City but was injured in 2009 and 2010 and attended Lions’ training camp in 2011.
Promising young players like Leggett made it easier for the Bombers to release high-profile singing Korey Banks earlier this month.
Meanwhile, O’Shea says while Sears remains a maybe, defensive end Jason Vega definitely won’t be playing the Lions.
Winnipeg’s defence held but their offence stumbled against the Edmonton Eskimos last week. O’Shea says they need to improve communication on the offensive line but he is confident that will be addressed in Vancouver.
“What do we need to fix? The mistakes,” he said with a laugh.
The Bombers are still deciding whether receiver Aaron Kelly will be back in the lineup Friday.
Defensively, there were more than a few missed tackles last week as Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly racked up close to 100 yards on the ground, but the Bombers held the Eskimos to just one offensive touchdown in the 26-3 loss.