TORONTO - Toronto linebacker Shea Emry wants to make a good first impression and show his dedication to his new team.
The former CFL all-star said he will be skipping his brother's wedding so that he can attend the first day of training camp with the Argonauts later this spring. Emry said it was a tough choice but he wants to prove that he's ready to put in the work and earn the respect of his teammates.
"This is essentially my rookie year and I have to come in and earn my keep," Emry said. "I know it's not going to be easy and that's why I made that decision. This is my job, this is my career and this is something that's really important to me."
The 27-year-old signed a three-year deal with the Argonauts last February shortly after the start of CFL free agency. He spent six seasons with the Alouettes after being drafted seventh overall in 2008.
Emry, who had 46 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery last season, said he likes to lead by example and hopes he'll develop a solid chemistry with his new club.
"By no means do I think I'm going to come in and just be the leader right off the bat because they already have leaders in this locker-room," Emry said Tuesday at a media availability at the Argos' downtown office. "I just want to bond together with those guys and form a strong team atmosphere."
Rookies and quarterbacks will start camp May 28 at York University and veteran players will participate in their first practice on June 1. Emry said he explored all possible options so that he could attend his brother's wedding in Ladner, B.C., but unfortunately he won't make it.
Emry, who is from Richmond, B.C., said he now has a residence in downtown Toronto and is looking forward to living in the Ontario capital.
"It smacked me in the face when we landed yesterday and I was like, 'This is home,'" he said.
Emry's best season came in 2012 when he had a career-best 87 tackles — including seven sacks — and was named the East Division's top Canadian and defensive MVP. He has 261 tackles, 13 sacks, three fumble recoveries and four interceptions in his career.
He has also previously worked with Toronto defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke and head coach Scott Milanovich.
They won Grey Cup titles together in 2009 and 2010 in Montreal. Burke held the same position with the Als while Milanovich was the team's offensive co-ordinator.
Emry was asked why he decided to leave Montreal to sign with its East Division rival.
"I think the history that I have with Scott and with Tim Burke now coming in as the defensive co-ordinator, and the relationships that I have with some of the guys on the team," he said. "The culture that they have in the locker-room, which is a very strong, winning culture is something I'm excited to be a part of.
"It's cool to be playing with guys that you've played with before and coaches that you really trust and respect. That was the difference maker."
Toronto finished first in the East Division last season with an 11-7 record but lost to Hamilton in the East Final.
"I know it's a very potent offence and with the defensive guys that we have coming back and some of the new guys that we have coming in, it's going to be very dynamic," Emry said.
The six-foot 228-pound UBC product is excited to show what he can do on the gridiron and is hopeful it will be a smooth transition.
"I think that's my biggest attribute is really knowing the defence," he said. "And with Tim Burke coming in and having played for him before, hopefully it'll just be like riding a bike.
"I'll just get back on and we'll be in stride."
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