Another great piece by Jacob Dearlove!
Return of Murray, Stephen big for Ticats secondary
[b]Reinforcements have arrived on the Tiger-Cats secondary, in the form of two veteran starters who will make their return to the Black and Gold’s lineup this weekend in Saskatchewan.
Third-year pro Rico Murray will see his first game action of 2015 in Week Five, after being sidelined for the first three games of the season due to a lower body injury.
“It was tough for me taking on another role, taking a player-coaching position,? said Murray, “especially when I wanted to be out there, sharing the load with the guys.?
In two seasons with the Ticats, Murray has been a defensive force, amassing 116 defensive tackles, adding two sacks and seven interceptions.
Murray has the versatility to play both strong-side linebacker and the halfback position, giving the team flexibility against different offensive packages and in different field position situations.[/b]
[b]And while Murray is as excited as anyone else is about his return, he’s just trying to remain level-headed and stay within himself.
“I know it’ll be my first game of the season and I’ll be real hyped up,? explained Murray, “I’m just trying to hold it down and stay calm, cool and collected the whole time, but I’m really excited about this year.?
Along with Murray, the Ticats will get Canadian Courtney Stephen back in the lineup, adding another starter back to the team’s secondary.
Stephen missed the last two games in Winnipeg and Montreal, but has overcome a leg injury to work his way back into the lineup this week.
“There’s only so many games in the year, you can’t take too many off,? said Stephen when asked about his speedy recovery. “I’m just anxious to get back out there with my teammates and help contribute to this thing that we’ve got going.?[/b]
[b]Similar to Murray, Stephen has positional versatility, with the ability to play both free safety and field corner. No matter where he plays, though, Stephen is just happy to be back on the field.
“If you’re a competitor, you don’t want to be on the sidelines for anything, not for one play,? explained Stephen.
In his first two seasons with the Ticats, Stephen has recorded 81 tackles and two interceptions in the regular season, along with a memorable game-sealing interception in last year’s East Division final.
In the absence of Murray and Stephen, the Ticats secondary has remained strong, ranking near the top of the league in most major passing defence categories; however, the addition of these two mainstays brings the all-important continuity factor into play.[/b]
[b]“I think any time you can keep continuity it’s important,? said defensive coordinator Orlondo Steinauer. “It’s always good to get some people that have been in the system longer, but I thought that the guys who played before them did a great job.?
Stephen and Murray, as well as a number of the other members of the Ticats secondary, came into the league around the same time, which has allowed them to grow together as a unit.
“The advantage that we have is that we all came in at the same time,? said Stephen, “those are the habits we’ve all built playing under Coach O and Coach Stanley…I feel like those habits pay off for us when we get out there.?
With these two starters back in the lineup, the secondary should be able to reach new heights, even with a matchup against the top passing team in the league on the horizon in Saskatchewan.[/b]
[url=http://ticats.ca/return-of-murray-stephen-big-for-ticats-secondary/]http://ticats.ca/return-of-murray-steph ... secondary/[/url]