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Rogers: Argos secondary learning to plug and play
The sound of being the Beasts of the East is pretty rowdy and Jalil Carter loves it. Under a clear sky on an uncharacteristically warm October afternoon, the Toronto Argonauts practice is electric Wednesday.“All of our practices from the whole West Coast trip,” the defensive back said. Carter is looking around as the team trickles off the field, still loud in every circle of offence, defence and special teams. “I swear, I’ve never been a part of a program like this. Practice is fun. It’s always fun.”Secret’s OutUnlike many players who say they’re unaware of their own stats, Toronto Argonauts defensive back Pat Watkins readily admits he wants to end the season as the CFL’s No.1 ballhawk.» Read MoreThe Argos welcome the Tiger-Cats Friday one win (and an Alouettes loss) away from clinching first place in the East Division.Not that the Chris Jones-run operation is this easy, but good guys and hard work go together nicely.“Coach did a good job of bringing good guys. He didn’t bring any shiesty guys,” Carter said.Not so colloquially: guys who got a pass, guys you gotta look out for.Not on this team. This defence plays like that song of the summer that won’t drop out of the No. 1 chart spot.“Our defensive line be singing all the time. They’re big, they’re physical, but everybody’s so nice,” the 24-year-old said. “It’s the craziest thing.”The Ohio-born, Ohio-raised, Ohio-schooled Carter is in his second CFL season. He went to an Argos tryout when he played for the Ohio-based Cleveland Gladiators of the AFL in 2012. Though he’d spent most of his life four hours from Toronto, he didn’t know anything about the Canadian league until he met Argos defensive coordinator Jones that day in Pittsburgh last year.“I didn’t think it went very good,” Carter said. “I didn’t think it went very good at all. All I did was get beat. Coach Jones saw something in me. I’m just so glad he was there.”Carter never did make the play Jones asked of him. Between the waggle and the adrenaline of making a good impression, Carter was in disbelief when Jones invited him to mini camp.He acts out the motion of the play he was asked to run. Carter is outspoken even when he’s not trying.“[The waggle] was ridiculous,” he said. “I was like, ‘what the heck is this? He wants us to press and stand here like this while they were running 10 yards, full speed?’”He spent 12 weeks on the practice roster in 2012 before stepping in to the spotlight when Pat Watkins went down with a foot injury. Carter appeared in the 100th Grey Cup victory for Toronto, recording five tackles to cap off his first season.This year, he’s notched 35 tackles and it’s not on him. He’ll hardly credit himself. Video Preview: Hamilton at Toronto Wk. 15 “It’s nothing I’m doing in particular. Coach Jones puts these defences that we run so everybody’s going to have an opportunity to make plays if you do your job,” he said. “You can’t ever try to do someone else’s job…it will come to you. Your turn will come.”He argues the team is successful because everyone on the defensive line understands how to do his job. And for Carter, his CFL age is still young. His rookie season was just a taste, and he’s admittedly growing in every game during his sophomore campaign.Carter’s realization came all at once; everything clicked during the first meeting with Montreal this season.“I’m really learning it all this year: concepts, formations, what the offence is actually trying to do,” he said, explaining his process. “Knowing all of that, I wanted to try to do everything. Then I had a bad game. It all clicked to me and I got away form my technique. It got bad.”So, he just went back to doing his job.Carter cocks his head to one side and lifts his eyebrows in an exaggerated motion when a mention of pressure on the secondary comes up. Watkins, his teammate, is no longer a league secret. Opposing quarterbacks have noticed the Argos’ 30-year-old cornerback is leading the CFL in interceptions.“It doesn’t matter,” Carter said. There could be an exclamation point on his proclamation. “If you just do your job, it does not matter. If you’ve got a man, act like your man is getting the ball every play.”Jones,Wholesale NFL Jerseys, man of few words, speaks through his d-line’s confident knowledge of how to make it work.“Don’t worry about what Pat’s doing, don’t worry about what [Marcus] Ball’s doing,” Carter said. “Just worry about your man and everything will work out.”This weekend, Carter’s almost three-year-old daughter is coming to visit. He hasn’t seen her in nearly a month.As his football knowledge and understanding under Jones’ leadership makes him better in uniform, he’s equally indebted to the coach for his life-altering moments off the field.“Seriously, [Jones] helped me learn how life is, how you should prepare, how everything’s a business and you can’t take things too personally,” Carter said. “He sure doesn’t [say much],Cheap NFL Jerseys, he’s very smart…He’s helped me grow as a player and as a man. I have to say it.”