Through no fault of his own, Adam Bighill’s job security has all of a sudden become a question mark.
But the B.C. Lions starting middle linebacker says he won’t let predecessor Solomon Elimimian’s return to the CFL team bother him as the Lions prepare to host the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday.
“It doesn’t change my outlook at all,” Bighill said Friday after his team’s walk-through at B.C. Place Stadium. “I’m going to keep doing my thing the way I’ve been doing it. I’ve been playing well, and that’s what I’m going to keep doing.”
Elimimian is back with the Lions to complete the option year of his contract after a failed NFL tryout, but will not play against the Argos. As a result, Bighill will keep his starting spot for at least one more week as the West Division-leading Lions (7-3) look to pad their precarious two-point lead on the second-place Calgary Stampeders.
Meanwhile, the Argos (6-4) have a chance to gain sole possession of first place in the East.
Before the season began, the Lions’ middle linebacker position was far from certain following Elimimian’s departure to the NFL. Bighill, who is in his second season with the Lions, won a pre-season battle for the starting spot with James Yurichuk.
Despite the early uncertainty, Elimimian, who had unsuccessful tryouts with the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns, has not been missed.
Heading into this weekend’s game, Bighill ranked third in the CFL with 59 tackles.
“I’ve been doing my job and doing my responsibility,” said Bighill. “I’ve been playing well.”
In the process, he has presented the Lions with a pleasant problem — whether to start either Bighill or go back to Elimimian, the 2010 CFL rookie of the year. Bighill said he is willing to play at any linebacker position, but coach Mike Benevides did not want to deal with the issue Friday.
For the time being, the starting position in the middle belongs to Bighill.
To reinforce the point, the Lions postponed a media availability for Elimimian, who suffered a hamstring injury in training camp with Minnesota, until a half hour before game time Saturday.
Benevides did not want Elimimian’s presence to distract his club as it takes on a Toronto squad that has been rejuvenated under new coach Scott Milanovich.
“This is all about winning (Saturday’s) game,” said Benevides. “It has nothing to do about anything else. ... It’s great that (Elimimian) is going to be back in the fold, but I really don’t care anything about that right now.”
Meanwhile, the Argos hope to distract Bighill and the rest of a Lions defence in a bid to score more points than they did in an 18-9 loss to B.C. in Toronto in early August.
“He’s had a heck of a season,” said Milanovich. “He had a great game against us the first time we played them. He’s very instinctive. He just seems to know where to go, just seems to have that feel for the game, where to react — he just gets it. We respect him a lot.”
Bighill recorded an interception and one of his two sacks this season in the previous encounter. While he will have to contend with Argos quarterback Ricky Ray again, the Argos will deploy Gerald Riggs Jr. at tailback in place of Chad Kackert, who is out with a leg injury.
Riggs has not played since the pre-season, serving as an extra body on an off Toronto’s roster. But Milanovich still expects him to shine while replacing Kackert, who rushed for 368 yards, scored five touchdowns and made 19 catches for 185 yards before getting hurt in a win over Hamilton last weekend.
“They’re similar guys and our offence is not going to change a whole lot based on who’s in there,” said Milanovich. “I prepared most of the week like (Kackert) wouldn’t be able to go. So it’s going to be the same for the most part for us. We’ll give (Riggs) an opportunity to go out there and show what he can do.”
Notes: Lions slotback Geroy Simon will return to the lineup after missing his first game in four years last weekend against Montreal due to a hamstring injury. ... B.C. defensive lineman Khalif Mitchell is also slated to play after being sidelined by the flu during the week.
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