After four-plus years immersed in four-down football, Toronto Argonauts linebacker Cory Greenwood continues to adjust to a game he hasn’t played since his university days.
So far, he’s been a quick study.
The 30-year-old native of Kingston, Ont., has registered 18 tackles in his first full season with Toronto (3-1). The club took Greenwood third overall in the 2010 CFL draft out of Concordia but Greenwood headed to the NFL for stints with Kansas City and Detroit before joining the Argos late last season.
The six-foot-two, 237-pound Greenwood cracked Toronto’s defensive lineup in training camp. While he continues to adjust to the Canadian game, he’s enjoying a return to life as a starter.
“It feels good, I’m playing football again,” he said following Friday’s practice. “Getting on the bigger field with 12 guys, more motion its back like the college days.
“I haven’t seen every look, every scenario so I’m still learning. It’s still early in the season.”
But Greenwood has done more than enough to catch Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich’s eye.
“He’s been above average for the most part,” Milanovich said. “I think he’s a guy who just needed an opportunity.
“He’s athletic and really fast, I think he’s under-rated with his speed. He’s an instinctive football player who’s just getting settled in to what we’re doing. I think he’ll continue to get better and be a really good player for us.”
Greenwood was a standout player at Concordia, being named Canadian university football’s top defensive player in ’09. But he’s had to re-adjust to Canadian football – the three downs, unlimited motion and longer, wider field – following his time in the NFL.
“There’s a lot more thinking pre-snap and during the snap (in CFL) just with all the motion,” Greenwood said. “Down south, only one guy can move at a time so if two guys are, it’s a reload and they can’t snap the ball.
“There’s definitely an adjustment with the field here because you can’t spot-drop like you can in the U.S. and find your landmark. There’s also fewer active guys (on roster) so you’re playing a little special teams and the play clock is only 20 seconds so it touches your cardio a little bit . . . thank God for the TV timeouts.”
Greenwood is also playing for a different defensive co-ordinator as linebacker coach Casey Creehan took over the top job following Tim Burke’s off-season resignation. But Greenwood said that’s been a minor adjustment because he joined the Argos late last year.
“Last year I came in and I didn’t know any terminology or anything,” he said. “They kept the packages simple for me so to be honest I didn’t really notice the change.
“I came in here and everything was fresh.”
It’s also been a challenging start to the season for Toronto, which has played its first four regular-season games away from Rogers Centre. The Argos will play a fifth contest on the road but it will be in Hamilton against the arch-rival Tiger-Cats (2-2) on Monday night.
With four road games to begin the year – Toronto’s season-opening 26-11 win over Edmonton in Fort McMurray. Alta., was deemed a home game – the Argos will finish up at home, playing their final five regular-season contests at Rogers Centre.
Monday night’s game will be Greenwood’s first in Hamilton as a CFL player. He admits he’s not totally up on all the details of the Ticats-Argos’ longstanding rivalry but understands the contest’s importance given its a divisional matchup.
“I just know it’s a big game, it’s a division game.” he said. “We’re just trying to win the East and get that bye (to conference final) so division games are big.
“But I also know it’s a cross-town rivalry and that’s always fun.”