For the first three years of his CFL career, Toronto Argonauts slotback Anthony Coombs found himself inexorably linked to Andre Durie.
Similar in style and ability – not to mention Canadian – Durie was the experienced, proven veteran while Coombs was the up-and-comer. With Durie having moved on from football before this season, Coombs is now flourishing on his own.
“He’s been a versatile athlete since the moment he came here,” Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray says. “Now he’s the guy, not splitting time like he was the last few years.”
A 2014 third overall pick, who extended with Toronto for two years in January, Coombs has put together back-to-back eight catch games with 94 and 73 yards respectively. Through five games, he’s made 28 receptions for 253 yards – 133 have been yards after the catch – and one touchdown. That puts him on pace for the most productive season of his career – 100 grabs and over 900 receiving yards. Durie’s best season: 92 receptions for 986 yards.
“If there’s one thing that is different it’s me being more comfortable and I don’t have to think as much out there,” Coombs explains. “In order to really play fast you have to know everything inside and out.”
Ray and Coombs have been together since the University of Manitoba product’s first day in the CFL.
“We’ve had a lot of experience together and the more experience you get with a guy the more comfortable you feel, and that’s the way with Anthony. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him,” Rays says.
“Ricky and I have that connection,” Coombs adds.
What makes the diminutive Canadian valuable is the ability to be used like a queen chess piece that can move all over the board.
“We have him doing a lot of different things, he’s running the ball, pass protecting, coming out of the backfield with catches, lining up at receiver running routes,” Ray says. “He’s just a well-versed athlete and can do a lot of things for us.”