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Former NFL first-round pick Maybin ready to adjust to CFL

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The Canadian Press
10/28/2013 6:10:58 PM
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OAKVILLE, Ont. - It's a new game with a new team in a new city, but it's just football for linebacker Aaron Maybin.

The former NFL first-round draft pick participated in his first workout with the Toronto Argonauts on Monday, a day after joining the CFL club's practice roster. Maybin admits he's got much to learn about the Canadian game but isn't the least bit worried or intimidated about lining up a yard off the ball, playing three downs or having more ground on a longer, wider field.

"The way I see it I'm a football player, I adjust to whatever style I need to adjust to," he said. "It (Canadian field) is bigger than I'm used to but there's nothing intimidating about it, nothing too different.

"Football is football. You've just got to adjust and understand it's a part of the game. That (a yard off ball) is a difference but as I said athletes adjust so it shouldn't be a problem."

While Maybin is short on CFL experience he's not lacking in confidence.

"Talent," he said when asked what's the top attribute he brings to Toronto. "I'm not really a guy that harps on his own abilities too much.

"I feel like there are things I can bring to this team and obviously the coaches feel that way too. I'm just coming in, working hard, trying to do my best to help the guys on this team that have been working all year to get to the places they want to be really bad and that's a championship."

The 25-year-old Maybin wore No. 56 on Monday — former Giants star Lawrence Taylor was a favourite player when Maybin was growing up — and he'll be given every opportunity to learn quickly. The defending Grey Cup-champion Argos (11-6) have clinched first place in the East Division and home-field advantage for the conference final Nov. 17.

So Toronto could give Maybin an extensive audition Friday when it hosts Montreal in the regular-season finale for both teams. The Alouettes (7-10) will finish third in the division and face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (9-8) in the conference semifinal Nov. 10 in Guelph, Ont.

Maybin is back playing football after being released by the Cincinnati Bengals in August. That certainly raises questions about his overall fitness and how quickly he can round into game shape, but Maybin downplayed those suggestions.

"It's a consideration, not really a concern," he said. "Just making sure I don't try to do too much too quick and end up injuring myself trying to get to where I want to be and understand I'm not there yet and I still have some work to do."

Buffalo had high expectations for Maybin when it took him 11th overall in the 2009 NFL draft after he led the Big 10 with 12 sacks in 10 starts at Penn State. The Bills signed Maybin to a five-year deal that reportedly included a US$7.087 signing bonus and $15 million in guaranteed money.

The six-foot-four Maybin entered the NFL listed at 250 pounds but reported to the Bills in '11 weighing just 228 pounds. Maybin's lack of size certainly didn't help as he failed to record a sack or crack Buffalo's starting lineup over two seasons (27 career games) before being released.

Maybin joined the New York Jets in August 2011 but was let go in November 2012. He signed with Cincinnati on Jan. 25 before being released Aug. 18 having recorded 36 tackles, six sacks and five forced fumbles over his NFL career.

The Argos will give Maybin every opportunity to rush the quarterback coming off the edge, and with good reason. Toronto's defence has just 38 sacks this season, second-lowest in the CFL.

Maybin still looked very long and lean Monday as he practised with the Argos at an Oakville high school. But he did show he has the speed and quick feet needed to play defence in the Canadian game.

"He can rush the passer, that's his history," Argos head coach Scott Milanovich said. "Tall, kind of lanky, great first step, good with his hands.

"This was our first day and I didn't get a chance to just concentrate on him but he looked like he was doing a nice job down there in one-on-ones. We're just seeing what he can bring to us as far as getting after the quarterback."

Maybin's arrival in Toronto will prompt suggestions he's using the Argos as a springboard back to the NFL. However, Maybin downplayed that suggestion.

"I'm just focused on this opportunity and this chance," he said. "I'm not really focused on anything to do with the NFL."

NOTES — Milanovich re-iterated Monday starter Ricky Ray won't dress Friday night. Backup Zach Collaros will start against Montreal with Trevor Harris and Mitchell Gale also playing. Milanovich said rookie kicker-punter Quinn Sharp, who practised for the first time Monday, could play against the Alouettes. "We feel like the most beneficial thing for our team is to have Ricky Ray lining up under centre Nov. 17," Milanovich said. "I think it's our responsibility to make sure that happens."

Aaron Maybin (Photo: Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)
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