Geroy Simon had to deal with plenty of attention after practice Monday. The story of the day, however, was somewhere else. (Ric Ernst-PNG)
You almost wonder if Mike Benevides had it planned all along, seeing as though there is not much the man doesn’t do that is unscripted one way or another based on his first month in charge on the field with the Lions.
Geroy Simon has been summoned to give his views to local pen and recorder set on surpassing Milt Stegall, not to mention drum up some interest for a season opener which shouldn’t really require much hype Friday against Winnipeg.
Over in another corner after practice, however, there’s a far more significant development that will affect everything the Lions might want to do this week and the season ahead.
Benevides is talking with Adam Bighill outlining more details after telling him hours earlier he will start at middle linebacker ahead of James Yurichuk, a move almost no one saw coming, or paid much attention as Simon was holding court.
You want Simon at his best? Wait for The Province’s 12-page season preview in the paper Wednesday. The news of the day was somewhere else.
Bighill did not get the majority of first-team reps at training camp but of the two might have been the more positionally sound. In last week’s pre-season game at Edmonton, the Lions left the impression they might be vulnerable to the run this year, and perhaps Benevides noticed.
“It was a neck and neck fight but occasionally you saw something that excites you,” Benevides said of the pugnacious Bighill, who got lost behind Solomon Elimimian last season but gives away little when it comes to his tackling.
The move is significant, as at this point at any rate, the Lions are now down to the required seven Canadian starters, though they could move it back to a more comfortable number without too much difficulty.
It is interesting given that the move came a day after the Lions couldn’t rationalize keeping injured import linebacker Adam Leonard, who at least would have given them a backup import option if the Bighill moves sticks. There’s been some suggestion that Anton McKenzie, who will occupy the will-linebacking spot for starters, could eventually move more into the middle as the season progresses.
But Yurichuk will be on the field at times Friday, and if he was upset about losing a battle many figure he had won, wasn’t letting it show.
Benevides said all along that he would experiment in training camp and lived up to his word, which means for now the job at safety must be held by non-import Cauchy Muamba. But for the next few days, that move may only be of interest to the Bombers because whether he wants it or not, Simon is likely to be celebrated the next few days like never before. More in the paper Tuesday.