For Montreal Alouettes defenders De'Audra Dix and Billy Parker, preparing for Thursday's home game against Toronto was like any other in their young Canadian Football League careers.
Ask veteran defensive end Anwar Stewart or fifth-year linebacker Chip Cox and you'll probably get a different story.
That's because the Alouettes defence, along with those in B.C., Calgary and Winnipeg in previous weeks, has had to stress the need to pay special attention to the workings in the Toronto backfield.
It's a practice some might say hasn't been a top priority for defence units across the CFL since 2001 when Michael Jenkins set an Argos record for rushing yards with 1,484. In recent years, the passing game has been more of a strength for the Toronto offence.
"We know [Cory] Boyd runs pretty hard. He's a strong kid," Stewart told reporters of the Argos' rookie running back ahead of Thursday's 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff. "What we need is for everyone to play their position and do what they're supposed to do.
"Every play we run, there's always someone on the running back and someone on the quarterback, so if we all do our job, we'll be fine."
If Boyd does his job, namely carrying the ball for more than 100 yards at Montreal, he will become the first Argo to do so in four consecutive games since Bill Symons in 1968.
Former Alouette Mike Pringle holds the league record with 13 set in 1998, while current Montreal running back Avon Cobourne has the longest current run of six straight 100-yard performances.
The 24-year-old Boyd leads the CFL in rushing yards with 431 and yards from scrimmage with 455.
"One player is not going to take this man down," Alouettes defensive end John Bowman, who had four quarterback sacks in last week's 37-14 win over Hamilton, told reporters Wednesday. "We have to gang-tackle him. We have to run to the ball."
Head coach Marc Trestman said everything must start with stopping Boyd, who didn't play football last season after the National Football League's Denver Broncos released him in March 2009.
"The first thing you have to do is make the quarterback one-dimensional," he said, "and that is not going to stop."
The defending Grey Cup champions have been successful to date this season with the No. 1 ranking against the rush. Opposing teams have run the ball a league-low 59 times versus the Alouettes in four games.
Former Argos running back Jamal Robertson, now with the B.C. Lions, amassed 1,031 yards along the ground a year ago but only 20 came against Montreal in a 25-0 loss last August.
Last week, the Alouettes held Tiger-Cats running back DeAndra' Cobb to 25 yards on eight carries.
"They want to put you in situations where you have to do something other than your strength," Argonauts offensive guard Taylor Robertson told the Toronto Sun, referring to the Alouettes' defence. "They have a good defensive scheme. We're just going to attack that and see what happens."
Any success Boyd has will help ease the pressure felt by first-year quarterback Cleo Lemon, who has three touchdowns passes but a 59.1 per cent completion rate. Only injured Casey Printers of the Lions (56.8 per cent) has been less successful.
Lemon had mixed results in a 24-20 defeat of B.C. last Friday, completing 19 of 28 passes for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns. But the one-time NFLer also threw two interceptions and was sacked three times.
Toronto is last in the eight-team CFL in several offensive categories, including average yards per game with 303.5 and passing yards with 791.
Lemon and company will face an Alouettes defensive secondary that has been whistled for 11 pass interference penalties in four games and four times has been caught for illegal contact on a receiver.
However, Montreal is very stingy at home, where it hasn't lost since Oct. 26, 2008. The Argos last won a regular-season tilt at Montreal in October 2007 at Olympic Stadium and haven't tasted victory at Molson Stadium since July 28, 2005, when Damon Allen threw four touchdown passes.
Under Trestman, the Alouettes are 6-0 versus their division rivals and have outscored the Argonauts 214-92. But the teams currently share top spot in the East Division with identical 3-1 records.
And they should have a full lineup Thursday. Kicker Damon Duval and safety Etienne Boulay are expected to suit up after being sent home this week with the flu.