Lions look beyond the loss of Bighill, Phillips
‘I wish those guys the best’: Defensive co-ordinator
Mark Washington’s ears are ringing a little less than usual at B.C. Lions’ training camp.
The club’s defensive co-ordinator has been steadily implementing his systems this week, but there are two big holes - not to mention big personalities - missing from the group with the off-season departures of linebacker Adam Bighill and defensive back Ryan Phillips.
“It is different to have those vacancies there,” said Washington, adding jokingly: “The sound is different, or the lack of sound is different.
“But it’s OK. I wish those guys the best.”
Bighill, a rock in the middle for the Lions alongside Solomon Elimimian, signed with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints in January thanks to an out clause in his contract after the 28-year-old’s six seasons in B.C. where he registered 489 defensive tackles and 33 sacks.
Phillips, meanwhile, was released prior to free agency in February following a disagreement on a new deal and his future deployment before subsequently inking with the Montreal Alouettes.
The 34-year-old had played all of his previous 12 seasons with the Lions, grabbing 47 interceptions and adding 478 tackles while missing just four of a possible 216 games.
“I played with Bigs for six years, Ryan for seven,” said Elimimian, the league’s most outstanding player in 2014. “It goes past football. You get to know their families and they become like brothers.”
The CFL’s top defender in both 2014 and again last season added that seeing his friends leave was just another reminder of the realities of professional football.
“One year you’re here and the next year you’re not,” said Elimimian. “We all understand that. It doesn’t change our relationship outside football. We’re very close, but it’s different.”
While there appears to be a number of options in the secondary to take over for Phillips, Lions head coach and general manager Wally Buono was philosophical when asked specifically how he plans to replace Bighill, who won the CFL’s defensive MVP honours in 2015.
“Who was Adam Bighill seven years ago? Who was Solomon Elimimian nine years ago?” Buono responded.
“You find new players. Adam’s a great football player, but hopefully you’ll be talking about the guy who replaced him and how productive he was and what a bright future he has.”
will no longer be working side by side with Adam Bighill in B.C.. Bighill joined the New Orleans Saints this off-season.