Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Veteran Courtney Stephen Undaunted by Challenge of Moving to Safety

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Veteran Courtney Stephen Undaunted by Challenge of Moving to Safety

Article excerpt

Stephen undaunted by move to safety

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HAMILTON - Courtney Stephen is unfazed by the challenge before him at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats training camp.

The six-foot, 199-pound native of Brampton, Ont., is making the shift from cornerback to free safety. Stephen is being counted upon to fill the huge void in Hamilton's secondary created by the loss of all-star Canadian Craig Butler (knee), who's expected to miss the entire 2016 campaign.

"I consider myself a football player so wherever they put me on the field I'll do my best to adapt," Stephen said. "They could put me at long-snapper and I'd figure it out and get it done for the team.

"Luckily I've got experience playing (safety). So far it has been good."

Stephen played safety in 2013, his first season with Hamilton. However, there's much more communicating involved there than at corner, which means trying to be heard over Simoni Lawrence, Hamilton's colourful and always animated middle linebacker.

"I know it sounds like noise from the outside but we know that's our energy right there," Stephen said. "We need all those voices to be loud and confident on gameday so we're just getting our practise in right now.

"It's a bit more vocal back there. You're going to be involved a little bit more than when you're out on the island (at cornerback). But the type of defence we play we're inter-dependant on each other so it's nothing too different. I've just got to be a different cog in the wheel back there."

Even with his experience at safety, Stephen has big shoes to fill. The six-foot-two, 196-pound Butler, a native of London, Ont., was a CFL all-star last season with 43 tackles, four sacks and an interception.

"Hey man, Craig is a hell of a baller," Stephen said. "He's definitely somebody I learned a lot of things from.

"But pressure is a state of mind that only exists when you let it so I'm going to go out there and do my thing."

Butler's injury also creates lineup issues for Hamilton because he's one of the minimum seven Canadians the club must play each game. …

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