TORONTO – Just a couple yards back from the defensive line of scrimmage, Cory Greenwood lines up at his Linebacker spot waiting for the quarterback to snap the ball. A spot he’s eager to take over.
Flashback to the off-season: Greenwood’s path was paved when the Double Blue re-acquired defensive end Ricky Foley in exchange for fellow Canadian linebacker Shea Emry – Toronto’s big free agent acquisition only one-year prior. At the time, discussion and analysis focussed primarily on two fronts: One, the improvement of the Argos’ defensive line as Ricky Foley was coming off a productive season in Saskatchewan, having recorded 12 sacks and 54 tackles; secondly, that the void left at linebacker with the departure of Emry created an opening for Canadian Cory Greenwood. While it makes sense to suggest that Emry’s departure created an opportunity for the University of Concordia graduate, make no mistake about it, in Greenwood’s mind, the job was up for grabs all along.
“Whether Shea was here or not, I knew that I would come in with the mindset that it was going to be my spot to lose,” says Greenwood. “In football you’re always competing and can’t ever get comfortable. Right now I’m of the mindset that I need to compete for playing time with the guys that are here and that I haven’t earned a thing.”
This mindset, focused on competition, has allowed the national linebacker to have not only a successful football career but a strong love for sports.
“Growing up I played everything, with a lot of focus on soccer, hockey and of course football,” said Greenwood. “Basically I would play anything that could get me out of school.”
That enthusiasm will serve the Kingston, Ontario native well as he prepares for his first full season in the CFL after a five-year stint south of the border in the NFL.
“Last year, I joined the team with only two games left in the regular season and it was just a total blur,” recalls Greenwood.” I got in on special teams because I didn’t know the schemes but I’d go play anywhere they tell me to.”
This year’s version of the Argonaut defence sees new faces not only on the field but along the sidelines as well. Tim Burke’s resignation as the Argos’ defensive coordinator in mid-May saw the promotion of Casey Creehan, formerly the team’s linebacker coach. With a new coach comes a new set of schemes and formations. Coach Creehan’s philosophy is one that that Greenwood describes as “simple, aggressive and smart.”
“You can change the terms all you want but at the end of the day it’s all about getting after the ball and not letting yourself or your teammate get beat.”
As the team prepares for their season opener on June 27 against the Edmonton Eskimos, much has been made about the fact that the game is in Fort McMurray Alberta, yet is a scheduled home game for the Argonauts. It’s a detail that the 30-year-old linebacker doesn’t give a second thought.
“Football is football and no matter where we’re playing nothing changes when you’re in between the lines. These are great guys and great teammates. All we care about is coming together and gelling as a unit.”
Written by: Anthony Ciardulli