Blocking's always been a key part of football, but it's mostly discussed in the context of offence and special teams. However, under rare circumstances, some defensive players can also get the chance to show off their blocking skills. Montreal Alouettes' safety Kyries Hebert did just that last week in his team's win over Hamilton, delivering a thunderous block on Tiger-Cats' receiver Onrea Jones to free up Jerald Brown for a big return after Brown picked off Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris. Here's video of the play:
Brown's interception was certainly impressive, but Hebert's block stands out even more. TSN analyst Duane Forde rightly called it "the highlight of the play," and it might just be one of the highlights of the year. This is a remarkable block, and it looks to be a legal one: Hebert hits Jones straight on, not to the side, doesn't get him low, doesn't hit Jones' head and doesn't seem to lead with his own head. Instead, he just explodes straight into Jones' chest with his arms, knocking him over in the process and paving the way for a big Brown return. Of course, Hebert's a big defensive back at 6'3'' and 222 pounds, while Jones is only listed at 6 feet and 202 pounds, so there's a bit of a size mismatch here. Still, this wasn't just about size and raw power; it was a tremendous display of quick reactions from Hebert to rapidly identify the interception and Jones' pursuit angle of Brown, and when he got there, he delivered this block with outstanding technique. As former University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns teammate Fred Stamps, now an Edmonton Eskimos' slotback, told Gerry Moddejonge, these blocks have been a Hebert speciality for some time:
"I was like, 'Wow!' " Stamps said of watching the play unfold following an interception on a Henry Burris pass by Jerald Brown in the third quarter before Jones was caught with his head down. "But I've known Kyries since I've been in college. That's his reputation, he's a hitter."
Stamps played with Hebert at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns, where the defensive back led the team in tackles in each of his three seasons from 1999-2001.
"He used to do that in practice when we were in college," Stamps said of his former teammate, who holds the Cincinnati Bengals single-season record for special-teams tackles. "He didn't hold back at all. He'll go back and hit you in practice.
"That's the type of guy he is."
Indeed, and the Alouettes are lucky to have him. The 31-year-old safety put up some solid performances in his five prior CFL seasons with Ottawa, Winnipeg and Hamilton, but the Tiger-Cats cut him in March 2011 and he didn't play at all last year. Hebert wanted to get back in the game this season, though, so he called Montreal general manager Jim Popp, got a tryout and made the squad. He's proven to be a vital piece for this team, especially following their decision to release Canadian safety Etienne Boulay, and it looks like he'll go on making both the highlight-reel blocks and the more-under-the-radar coverage plays for some time still.