Riders give Lobendahn the chance he wanted
Blue Bomber #58 Joe Lobendahn at Canad Inns Stadium during team practice in Winnipeg. Tuesday, August 30, 2011. (QMI Agency)
Joe Lobendahn kind of likes guarantees, even when he’s the one being put under the gun.
In fact, the new Saskatchewan Roughriders middle linebacker doesn’t mind making one of his own.
“I guarantee whoever has the ball, I will hit them hard,” Lobendahn said.
“Whoever has the ball, I will deliver a big hit.
“That’s what I do on an every-play basis, every game day. It doesn’t matter who is holding the ball. I will take him down.”
Lobendahn certainly didn’t take offence this week when Riders head coach Corey Chamblin made a guarantee that Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish wouldn’t get 100 yards Sunday at Mosaic Stadium.
As someone whose main job is to keep his eyes on the tailback, the five-year CFL veteran embraced the challenge.
When the Riders signed Lobendahn a month ago, it was right after Cornish torched them for 159 yards in a 17-10 loss in Regina.
“With him saying that, it’s him saying he believes in us as a defence and what we can do,” Lobendahn said. “I take pride in everything we do on the field.
“I wish everyone ran the ball every single down. It would be more action for me. It’s a passing league. I’m ready for anything. I’m excited to be playing again.”
This is the final meeting of the regular season between the Stamps (7-4) and Riders (5-6), but the two teams could be on a collision course in the playoffs.
So Chamblin has tried to fire his team up with talk of how this could set the tone for things to come.
“I want this game to be a 1978-type game,” Chamblin said. “Once the game is done, I want to see tape flying off. I want to see blood. I want to see snot. I want it to be an old-school football game.
“I want it to be one of those tough games where once you win, it was truly your best. That’s what happens in the playoffs because you know there is nothing left after it.”
Calgary head coach John Hufnagel was quarterbacking the Stampeders that year, and Chamblin was still in diapers at that time.
If Hufnagel knows what Chamblin means by a 1978-type of game, he’s not interested in describing it.
“I have a good memory but it’s short,” Hufnagel said upon arrival in Regina. “It’s going to be a heck of a ball game.
“It’s two evenly matched teams and it’s important for both teams. This is a tough stadium to play in. He’s got his guys cranked up and, hopefully, I will get my guys cranked up and it will be a fun atmosphere.”
The Stamps know Lobendahn could be a difference-maker for the Riders defence.
During this off-season, when there were still questions about Juwan Simpson’s knee problems from last year, the Stamps brought Lobendahn on board for training camp.
After Simpson proved he was back to his 2010 form, Lobendahn was let go, and Simpson couldn’t be happier to see him land another job.
“He’s a good fit there,” Simpson said. “I watched that last game and he made a few big plays. He’s always been a playmaker. No one ever doubted that.”
When the Stamps released Lobendahn in July, he went back to Winnipeg where he makes his home after four seasons with the Blue Bombers.
He quickly got a job working towards becoming a full-time pipe-fitter, but it didn’t take much for him to get lured out of ‘retirement.’
The 29-year-old suffered a season-ending knee injury during last year’s Banjo Bowl against Saskatchewan, and he jumped at the chance to join the Riders right before the annual Labour Day game against the Bombers.
“I had some unfinished business because of last year,” Lobendahn said. “I had a great year in the beginning and then I got hurt.
“I still wanted to play. I still needed to finish a season where I was being consistent every single game. The Riders gave me that chance.”