Esks know the job on Cobb
By CON GRIWKOWSKY, EDMONTON SUN; SUN MEDIA
5th August, 2009
When you hear the story of DeAndra Cobb's improbable rise to respectability, it's amazing enough.
At 28, and two years out of football, Cobb was timed at 4.38 seconds over 40 yards at a Hamilton Tiger-Cats evaluation camp in California.
He started training camp at No. 4 on the running backs depth chart, behind Kenton Keith, Terry Cauley and Tre Smith.
Cobb was pressed into action when all three players ahead of him were forced out of the lineup with injuries, the latter two during the opening week of the CFL season.
Cobb responded with an offensive Player of the Week performance in Week 2 and yesterday was again tabbed for the accolade.
When the Edmonton Eskimos travel to Hamilton for Saturday's game they'll have a first-hand chance to assess for themselves if this guy's for real.
There's some question on the degree of difficulty.
Cobb earned both his honours against B.C. -- a defence that has struggled in the absence of Cam Wake.
The Eskimos managed to keep Avon Cobourne and the Montreal run game at bay last week and will need to bring their 'A' game again.
"My first glimpse of Cobb was last weekend," said Esks defensive lineman Dario Romero, a runner-up for this week's defensive Player of the Week.
"He's a great running back. He's quick. He's got good vision. We know what we're going up against. We're prepared. We feel like we're pretty good at stopping the run.
"He's good. That's all there is to say about that."
Maurice Lloyd and Kai Ellis each made key stuffs on Cobourne last week in the Esks gap-cancellation scheme, but Lloyd cautioned that it's dangerous to get worked up over one player.
"If you concentrate on one player, you mess up what you need to focus on and that's just playing the game," said Lloyd.
"He's a great running back. I ain't taking that from him and I don't take anything away from the offensive linemen, but we don't go out there trying to shut down one player.
"Our run defence has been No. 1 since Day 1, and nothing's going to change, period. We've been stopping the run, making the other team one-dimensional.
"When we stopped Cobourne, that was because everybody played their position. Nobody tried to be a superstar, nobody tried to be no Superman.
"We did what we had to do. Everybody had a gap and everybody had their responsibility."
Many players have started out their CFL careers with a splash and have drawn comparisons to greats in the game. Cobb's speed and his ability to hit holes that seem to not be there adds a different dimension.
"Watching him on film, he's similar (to Cobourne), but a bigger back," said Ellis. "He has great vision. He sees different holes. He gets out pretty quick.
"We're really going to have to focus. We have to make sure we're really in our gaps this time."
Cobb has been named the CFL's top offensive player in two of the four weeks he's started in his meteoric rise to stardom.
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Eskimos turning their attention to Cobb and the Tiger-Cats
CFL's No. 1 rushing unit
Mario Annicchiarico, Canwest News Service
Published: Wednesday, August 05, 2009
They stood the test against Wes Cates and the Saskatchewan Roughriders two weeks ago.
Next up was Avon Cobourne and the powerful Montreal Alouettes.
The Edmonton Eskimos now turn their attention to DeAndra' Cobb and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats -- the No. 1 rushing unit in the Canadian Football League, amassing 634 yards in five games and a league-leading 126.8 yards-per-game as a team.
Cobb, the five-foot-10, 196-pound product of Michigan State, will attempt to shred the Eskimos defence, coming off a 167-yard performance on 17 carries against the B. C. Lions -- an outing that earned him offensive player of the week honours.
"Mr. Cobb is an extremely talented young football player and he's added a second and third dimension to Hamilton's offence, not only as far as him carrying the rock, but also being a very significant receiver out of the backfield," admitted Edmonton linebackers coach Dan Kepley.
"With his significant speed, it will put us, as linebackers having to cover this guy, in a little bit of a panic situation. Hopefully we can run a whole lot faster scared than he can mad."
Cobb is fifth in the league in rushing with 325 yards on 49 carries, but his 6.6-yard average leads all starting running backs.
It all comes down to patience and cancelling gaps, something the Eskimos have improved immensely over the last two weeks. Against Montreal, they allowed Cobourne 58 yards on 11 carries, 16 of which came on one run midway through the fourth quarter.
"We stopped Cobourne because everybody was in position. Nobody tried to be a superstar, nobody tried to be a Superman. Everybody has a gap, everybody has a responsibility," stressed middle linebacker Maurice Lloyd. "Until then there's no peeking, no guessing, there's hard-nosed football in the trenches."
It will be much the same against the Tiger-Cats in a battle of two 3-2 teams on Saturday afternoon at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
"He's a really good back, quick feet, can change directions quickly and he's a big back, so we need to stay in our gaps and stay in our assignments," said defensive tackle Kai Ellis, who leads the Esks in tackles with 22, tied for eighth in the league.
"Watching him on film he's almost similar to [Cobourne], maybe a bigger back, but he has great vision and sees different holes. He gets out pretty quick."
The B. C. Lions would agree, having been ripped apart twice by Cobb.
"We have to make sure we're really in our gaps this time, you can't make a mistake because he's eight and out the gate," Ellis said in reference to his quickness.