Roughriders defensive back Eddie Davis, right, won a Grey Cup with Calgary in 1998. (Troy Fleece/Canadian Press)
Saskatchewan secondary follows the leader
Veteran Eddie Davis leads unheralded group
Last Updated Fri., Nov. 23, 2007
It's been a long time coming for Saskatchewan defensive back Eddie Davis.
The 13-year-veteran is the only member of the Roughriders' secondary to play on a Grey Cup winner, with Calgary in 1998.
He was still a member of the Stampeders when the team lost in the 1999 final but watched from the sidelines due to a knee injury and will finally get another chance nearly a decade later to suit up in the Grey Cup when Saskatchewan battle Winnipeg.
"You have to take advantage of this opportunity because you never know when it's going to happen again," Davis said.
In a transitional year for the secondary, Davis came back from missing nine games with a shoulder injury to lead a group that is peaking at the right time.
"He's the Godfather of the defence," said safety Scott Gordon. When he speaks, we listen.
"It's a blessing to have a leader like that on the defence, and it's great for us in the secondary."
The veteran's importance can't be overstated. During five games in September without him, the Roughriders allowed opposing quarterbacks to amass up nearly 1,700 passing yards and 13 touchdowns.
Davis admittedly needed a couple of games at the end of the season to get back to game form after his injury, but has sparked the club with interceptions in each of the team's playoff wins over Calgary and B.C.
Davis, Rontarius Robinson and Tristan Clovis were joined in the defensive backfield this season by Airabin Justin and Tad Kornegay, who each came over from Hamilton.
"The other guys, they blended in right away with the rest of the DBs, there wasn't much of a transition at all," said Ottawa native Gordon "Once they got the scheme down, they were comfortable"
Gordon helped the transition, having briefly played for Hamilton last season before rejoining Saskatchewan.
Meanwhile, Lance Frazier and James Johnson were called upon to fill bigger roles in their second season with the Riders.
Johnson was the only member of the secondary named a CFL West all-star, recording five interceptions and 49 tackles.
"James has really changed his game, he's really coming along," said Davis. "He's going to be a great player in this league and I think he'll play for a long time."
The overall result is a group with depth and flexibility that for its occasional lapses during the season still helped Saskatchewan record 16 more takeaways than turnovers, second to only B.C. this season.
To a man, the defensive backs are not overconfident at the prospect of facing Winnipeg backup Ryan Dinwiddie, making his first CFL start.
"We expect the guy to come out here and sling the ball around just like [Kevin] Glenn would," said Frazier. "People harp on the fact he's got no experience, all that stuff goes out the window.
"If he's a player, a player."
Sounds like something a veteran would say.
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