Calgary Stampeders who have played both offence and defence in games during their football careers feel a bit envious of Duron Carter.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders star receiver will start on defence at cornerback in Friday’s game against Calgary.
Roughriders coach Chris Jones says the absence of Kacy Rodgers (leg), Chris Lyles (shoulder) and Sam Williams (flu) left him with no choice. And Carter has seen action in the Roughriders secondary this season.
“Duron’s been practising there all year and he’s the best option we have,” Jones said Thursday.
Stampeder defensive backs Shaquille Richardson, Patrick Levels and Adam Thibault played both sides of the ball as teenagers and would do it again in a heartbeat, if coach Dave Dickenson would let them.
“I’ve actually been bugging Dickie about letting me play offence,” Richardson said Thursday. “But I don’t think he’s having it.
“I would try to score touchdowns on offence and defence. A pick-six and a touchdown in one game, that would be pretty cool.”
Calgary (13-1-1) can clinch first in the West Division with a victory and ensure the division final Nov. 19 will be played at McMahon Stadium.
The Roughriders (8-7) sit fourth in the division two points behind the Edmonton Eskimos and can gain a playoff berth with a win.
Richardson is correct that Dickenson won’t entertain asking a player to start on both offence and defence in a game.
“I would hope I have better depth than that,” the coach said.
It’s rare in football’s modern era for professional players to excel in more than one position.
Canadian Football Hall of Famer Garney Henley was an all-star receiver and defensive back for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 1970s.
Larry Highbaugh, another Hall of Famer, was a standout cornerback and kick returner for the Edmonton Eskimos in the ’70s.
Richardson lined up at both DB and receiver his entire senior year at Los Alamitos High School in California.
Levels essentially never left the field playing offence, defence and special teams for Roosevelt High School in Dallas.
Thibault, who switched from receiver to DB during his university career at Laval, recalls playing receiver and safety in junior college at 18.
“I miss those days,” the cornerback said. “It’s the dream of every football player to be honest, to play both ways like that.”
Doing double duty as a pro would feel a lot more punishing on the body, but it’s doable, says Levels.
“After the game, you feel like you’ve been in a car wreck, so now you’ve been in two car wrecks because you’re playing both ways,” he said.
“It’s not out of the question to go do it. You just have to be prepared. You have to watch double film. You have to watch offence, you have to watch defence.
“There’s a lot more that goes into it now because you’re a professional. It’s not like high school where you just go out there and line up and play.”
With 1,037 yards from 72 catches and eight TDs, Carter leads all Roughrider receivers. How adept he is covering and tackling receivers remains to be seen.
“I think Duron will play a bit at corner, but not every single down,” Thibault predicted. “It’s pretty complicated to learn a full defence in one week.”
Stampeder quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and Carter engaged in Twitter banter this week over the prospect of being on the field at the same time Friday.
Mitchell admitted he thought it was a hoax, which is why he mock threatened to throw 25 passes to receivers Carter is covering.
But Mitchell takes Carter at the corner seriously because Carter’s athleticism can compensate for inexperience.
“The only adjustment for him is adjusting to a ball not thrown to him,” Mitchell said. “As a receiver, the ball’s thrown to you all the time.
“That’s why to me when DBs get picks, it’s very impressive because the ball’s never thrown to you. I’ve thrown a couple to some guys this year, but I’ll try my best not to do that for him this week.”