Defense secondary to Anthony

July 14, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

Put Karl Anthony in the secondary and he's right at home. Put the ball in his hands and Baltimore's All-CFL cornerback is in heaven.

He is an offensive player dressed in the body of a defensive technician.

"I have always been offensive minded, always wanted to be a running back," Anthony said yesterday. "When I get the ball in my hands, I like to run it back."

This would-be running back knows what to do with the ball once he gets it. Last season, when he played for the Calgary Stampeders, he returned an interception 115 yards for a touchdown to beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

In an exhibition game in Baltimore last month, he caught the carom of a blocked field goal and raced 59 yards to a touchdown.

He's even talked to Baltimore coach Don Matthews about letting him return punts, so strong is his passion for the football.

It probably won't happen Saturday night, though, when Baltimore's Canadian Football League team plays his old team, the Stampeders, at Memorial Stadium.

Anthony signed with Baltimore last May after playing out his Calgary contract, but says playing the Stampeders is no big deal.

"I know a lot of guys on the team, I have a lot of friends there," he said. "There are no hard feelings. I'll try to beat them, just like they'll try to beat me. After the game, we'll be friends again."

Anthony, 27, spent four years in Calgary and in each he ascended to a higher level. He was on the practice squad for most of the 1990 season. In 1991, he had three interceptions and 43 tackles. In '92, it jumped to five and 54. Last year, when he was chosen All-CFL, he had six interceptions and 69 tackles.

"Not only is he a great pass defender," Matthews said, "he's also an excellent open-field tackler. He's a very quiet kid, but he doesn't take any bull from anybody."

Anthony nevertheless caught flak in the wake of Calgary's 29-14 playoff loss to Edmonton in the Western Division final last year. Although the Doug Flutie-led offense scored only one touchdown in sub-freezing temperatures, Anthony was cited for getting beat on two pass plays.

"I had a bad game," he said. "On one touchdown, I was in man cover. I left my man on a pump fake [by Edmonton's Damon Allen]. The guy got behind me and scored.

"The next one, we were in a zone. But I wasn't the only one who was wrong on that play."

The shame was that it soiled a great season for Anthony. Had Calgary gone back to the Grey Cup for the third straight year, he said he might have re-signed with the Stampeders.

Calgary definitely wanted him. Coach Wally Buono said this week that he had called Anthony's agent, Peter Hathaway, about a new contract. "But he never called back," Buono said. "There was no interest from the agent."

Instead, Anthony began looking to the NFL. The San Francisco 49ers expressed interest, but did not offer a signing bonus. A native of Lafayette, La., Anthony considered Shreveport, Sacramento and Toronto, then settled on Baltimore.

It came down to choosing the known of the CFL over the unknown of San Francisco.

"I had established myself in this league," said Anthony, who played at Southwest Missouri State. "As long as I'm playing in the States, that's fine with me."

It didn't take him long to make an impact with Baltimore, either. He picked up career interception No. 15 last week in Toronto. Including the 115-yarder, he's returned two for touchdowns and is carrying a nifty 22.8 yards average per return.

Pretty good numbers for a would-be running back.

NOTES -- O'Neill Glenn's cranky ankle has progressed enough for him to be activated for Saturday's game. He will start at right guard. Keith Ballard moves to left guard, and Diego London to the practice roster. . . . Matthews formally suspended wide-out Shannon Culver yesterday for walking out of practice. Culver had a scheduled flight to Los Angeles last night.

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