Colts secondary offers prime spot for Anthony

June 11, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

Charles Anthony could have been in Seattle yesterday, learning a new defense.

Then again, he could have been in Cleveland, scoping out the Dawg Pound. Or Atlanta, inspecting the Georgia Dome.

Instead, he was at Towson State for introductions and reacquaintances.

The last of the Canadian Football League free agents to sign with the CFL Colts, Anthony participated in workouts for the first time with nine other arriving veterans.

Anthony was in Baltimore, he said, because none of the NFL teams he talked to would give him enough money or could assure him that he would be around come September. In other words, he didn't want to be simply a training camp body.

"I wanted to look at the NFL, but the NFL had to come up with a good offer to leave these guys," said Anthony, 25, a defensive back who played with the Saskatchewan Roughriders the past two years. "The up-front money was not what I liked."

So he told the Seahawks, Browns and Falcons, all three interested parties, no thanks. He would come back to the CFL with a two-year contract to play with the Colts under his old coach, Don Matthews.

In the process, he also passed on the opportunity to play for his hometown Las Vegas Posse, another first-year team in the CFL.

"It's my hometown all right, but you've got to like who you play for," Anthony said. "I like the way Matthews does things. He's a players' coach. You lose your zest for the game if you don't like who you play for."

Playing what may be the toughest defensive position in the CFL -- inside halfback -- Anthony had two good seasons in Saskatchewan. In 34 games under Matthews, he made 103 tackles and had eight interceptions. Last year, he led the league with two blocked kicks, and he tipped four others.

"This is iron-man football," he said. "You have the 20-second clock, special teams . . . to go in and block a kick is no big deal. I'm glad to be part of it."

To get another player with CFL experience for his defense was a big deal to coordinator Bob Price. The Colts now have four veterans in the secondary in a league where quarterbacks throw the ball almost nonstop.

"Having that experience is vital to us," Price said. "The players at other positions will pick it up. I can talk to them about how to do things, [but] now they see it."

Halfback Ken Watson and cornerback Karl Anthony arrived as free agents from the Calgary Stampeders. And halfback Enis Jackson, a three-time CFL All-Star, was acquired in a trade with the Toronto Argonauts.

At 6 feet 2 and 195 pounds, Charles Anthony gives the Colts a physical presence at a position that requires speed and the ability to cover man-to-man.

"Charles has good body control," Price said. "This is his third full year and he has a better understanding of the game. He has figured out how to use his height -- meaning leverage -- to help him. He's a gamer."

NFL teams consider Anthony too big to play cornerback. "[Halfback] is a weird position to them," he said. "They looked at me as a safety."

And he wasn't willing to be training camp fodder.

"Most of these guys have been in an NFL camp," he said of his new teammates. "Eighty percent of the people here could play in the NFL. But it comes down to who gets the opportunity. All of our secondary can play in the NFL."

Anthony said he might not play beyond his two-year contract with the Colts. But he does have big expectations in Baltimore.

"Before I retire," he said, "I want to get a Grey Cup championship."

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