THE CANADIAN PRESS
HAMILTON, Ont. -- Avon Cobourne's arrival in Hamilton has been a wake-up call for the Tiger-Cats.
The running back has a swagger that comes, in part, from having helped the Montreal Alouettes win the past two Grey Cups.
And while he may be relatively new to the Ticats locker-room, Cobourne hasn't been afraid to take a leadership role and spread that winning attitude.
"He talks a lot, but it's good," Hamilton quarterback Kevin Glenn said Wednesday. "It's confidence. He brings that aura to the team and guys feed off of it. It's only fitting for a Grey Cup MVP to have that kind of confidence that he has -- and he spreads it around.
"I enjoy playing with him. The mornings when we come in, he's loud in the locker-room and talking. He's kind of like your alarm clock."
Cobourne, 32, is third in the league in rushing with 459 yards on 91 carries and four touchdowns for the Ticats, who sit third in the East Division with a 4-3 record heading into Friday's clash with the league-leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers (6-1).
While it's not a stellar record, there does seem to be a lighter, more confident atmosphere at Ivor Wynne Stadium these days.
Cobourne played his first five years with Montreal before signing with Hamilton this off-season as a free agent. He said he's trying to instill an attitude in his new teammates that focuses on only worrying about things they can control -- themselves.
"I'm just trying to let these guys know it's really not about anybody else except us," Cobourne said. "If we handle what we need to handle, we'll take care of it. When I played (Hamilton in previous years), they were sort of worrying about what the other teams were doing. They weren't worried about what they were doing.
"When I was playing in Montreal, we didn't care what anybody else did. We just did what we did and adjusted. And I think that's the attitude that I'm trying to bring here."
Cobourne's best numbers came in 2009 when he rushed for 1,214 yards on 224 carries (5.4 yard average) and 13 touchdowns. He was the Grey Cup MVP that year and a CFL all-star. Hamilton, meanwhile, hasn't won a Grey Cup since 1999 and it's been almost as long since the club has been a real contender.
So the Tiger-Cats not only want Cobourne's swagger on the sidelines and in the locker-room, but also his on-field production to take the pressure off the passing game.
So far in 2011, he hasn't disappointed.
"First of all, he's played well," Hamilton head coach Marcel Bellefeuille said. "He's the third leading rusher and second in yards from scrimmage (with 645), so he's been productive and he's done a great job of picking up the blitz.
"As a leader, he's done a great job of being a positive and vocal voice and keeping himself accountable and the players accountable. And he kind of brings a little bit of a chip on his shoulder to our offence."
Cobourne said his main goal is to bring the Grey Cup back to Hamilton and the best way to do that is to lead by example.
"You can say all you want, but if you"re not making plays and you're not being consistent in what you do, nobody's going to listen," he said. "So I just bring my work ethic and my attitude here. And if they see me working then they think: 'Okay, he's doing this and it's consistently happening for him. He's consistently getting his numbers and he's consistently in the right place.' ... Then it'll snowball. If I'm doing it then everybody else is trying to do it."