Selling Kamau

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

Mike Kelly has taken the role of being Kamau Peterson's campaign manager.

Peterson is the Edmonton Eskimos nominee for outstanding Canadian in the CFL and now moves into the voting process to determine the West Division nominee for the league-wide award.

And according to Kelly - the Esks' receiver coach - Peterson should sweep the next two rounds of balloting by the Football Reporters of Canada to win the CFL outstanding Canadian award during Grey Cup week.

"I think he has 91 catches right now and this is arguably his finest season," said Kelly on Peterson, who leads the Eskimos with 1,209 receiving yards this year.

"But you can't discount what he has done for the entire group with Jason Tucker going down (with a broken neck).

"I think a lot of people felt the entire (group of receivers) would falter without Jason there. And Kamau stepped into that position and really took the reins of the entire group."

TALENTED GROUP

Entering the final week of the regular season with the Eskimos playing Montreal on Friday at Commonwealth Stadium (7 p.m., CHED, TSN), Peterson is going against a talented group of West Division nominees in the next round of voting.

Paris Jackson (B.C.), Mike Labinjo (Calgary, DL) and Gene Makowsky (Saskatchewan, OL) are the other candidates for the most outstanding Canadian nomination from the West.

Peterson has more catches and yards than Jackson (73 catches for 1,149 yards).

Labinjo and Makowsky don't have stats that can compare on a fair basis.

In the East Division, two of the nominees are receivers - Ben Cahoon and Andre Talbot - who are below Peterson on the pass receiving chart in the CFL.

Doug Brown (Winnipeg, DT) and Ray Mariuz (Hamilton, LB) are the other East contenders in the outstanding Canadian category.

While voters might be swayed by Peterson's most recent effort - his worst game of the year in Edmonton's 55-9 loss to Saskatchewan last Saturday in Regina where he dropped three balls - Kelly is trying to remind people of the bigger picture.

"I think he has seven drops for the season and three of them were in that one game," remarked Kelly.

"If you are catching 91 balls, chances are you are going to drop a couple because there are a lot of balls coming your way.

"I don't think anybody should freak out over that."

Statistics aside, Peterson's desire to step up and fill Tucker's leadership void has Kelly comparing his pupil to one of the best this game has ever seen.

"I think he has really talked to the younger players about the differences of the Canadian game compared to the U.S. game," continued Kelly.

"He has been a calming factor when things have maybe got a little bit out of hand during the course of the game.

"He has taken great ownership of how we practise and how that practice relates to how we play.

"The way he has contributed in meetings as far as how he is seeing how a certain individual is playing and how we can take advantage of it.

"It has been very rare - and I have been doing this for almost 30 years - that I have seen a player step up and take this kind of command that hasn't been a quarterback.

"This is close to some of the things (Matt) Dunigan used to do."

HUMBLE PLAYER

Whether enough media voters in Edmonton or across the country listen to Kelly is unclear.

But in this game of campaigning through the media, Peterson needs to get on track with his spokesperson.

In another sign of what a humble team player Peterson is, he wouldn't have given himself a vote as the Esks' most outstanding Canadian.

Peterson would have voted for special teams starter and part-time running back Calvin McCarty.

"I think he does more - all the special teams, we ask so much from him," said Peterson.


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