Making up for lost time

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:50 AM ET

Blake Machan has gotten his big hands on a role he'd love to hang onto permanently.

The 6-ft. 4-in. Rocky Mountain House product has been working out at tight end, a position where the 230-pounder can throw his weight around while grabbing his share of passes this season.

"I like it a lot, although it's different because I have to get my schemes and get my head in the right spot in far as the blocking and all that stuff," said the former Calgary Dino, the largest target in QB Henry Burris's arsenal.

"But I enjoy releasing off the line and getting open in a little bit different way than a standard slotback.

"It's more positional and a leverage kind of thing instead of quickness, which is something maybe I lack, so being in tight does play out a little better for me."

Entering his third CFL season, Machan is still trying to find his niche after missing all of last season with a serious shoulder injury suffered in training camp while he saw spot duty in his rookie year in 2003.

Although listed as a slotback, Machan expects to move inside in tight end formations, a seldom-used position where he hopes to thrive because of his size.

"It's kind of a throwback spot, which is another thing I like, but coach Buratto is throwing in a lot of different things, even two guys being in tight formations to create more gaps and more responsibilities," says Machan, 25. "I think it really is the perfect spot for me because I'm not your prototypical slotback and it enables me to use my size and work with using my body a little bit more."

After sitting out last season and accepting a new role in '05, Machan's expectations for performance and playing time are higher than ever.

"Even though last year I was out the entire year, I want to come in and contribute and catch some balls and establish myself as someone who is going to be here a while," says Machan, who collected 1,613 receiving yards in four seasons with the Dinos.

"Last year was a lost year. Mentally, I didn't grow. My on-field stuff didn't progress. I lost all my timing and all the things essential for a receiver to succeed, so it was a tough year.

"My goal because of last year is just to be in all 18 regular-season games this year and to play every down I'm thrown in there. I haven't really set any goals as far as receptions this season."

Although Machan has been given a clean bill of health, the long hours rehabbing with head therapist Pat Clayton have made him appreciate his chance to get into the lineup this season.

"It's a continuous process where you're in every day for the first four months with Pat, working at it and then eight months where you have to keep working at it and focusing on it," Machan says.

"I had to just keep getting stronger, so it's a long process."


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