Anyone who has ever transferred in their job knows it can be a stressful experience. You work with new people and learn different ways to do things.
Right tackle Patrick Kabongo understood there would be some changes when he signed with the B.C. Lions after injuries cut a swath through the defending Grey Cup champion's offensive line. He probably didn't expect handcuffs to be part of the routine.
Kabongo spent part of practices during training camp with his massive mitts in rubberized handcuffs. It's one of offensive line coach Dan Dorazio's methods to try and reduce the number of holding penalties called on the eight-year CFL veteran.
"I'm learning a lot of new techniques,'' said Kabongo, who was released by the Edmonton Eskimos over the winter in a cost-saving move. "Coach D is doing a great job with me. It's been a lot of learning.''
A giant of a man who reaches six-foot-six and has weighed up to 389 pounds, Kabongo stands out even in a crowd of football players. He often used his size to push defensive lineman around, but some lazy habits crept into his game.
He was benched last season for what the Eskimos believed was an excessive amount of holding calls. Kabongo eventually played his way back into favour and head coach Kavis Reed praised him as the team's best offensive lineman.
Still, Dorazio isn't taking any chances and is using the handcuffs to arrest any problems.
"It helps to keep your hands inside,'' said Kabongo, who will turn 33 before the Lions open the regular season Friday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. "That's a thing the coach wanted me to do.
"It's been going pretty well. It's a learning curve every day.''
Another method used by Dorazio is having players knead small rubber balls in their hands. The idea is they keep their hands tight to their body.
Lions coach Mike Benevides didn't grapple with the question when asked about Kabongo's history of being flagged for using his hands.
"Along the way he has had his fair share,'' said Benevides. "But if you play the position long enough you are going to get some of those.
"He's got attention for that during his career. You are talking about a man that is a huge human being that has played at a decent level and has been an all-star. If you play long enough you are going to get those calls.''
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|