Kinney playin' the waiting game

Although he’s had a hectic playing schedule the past few seasons, Esks defensive lineman Kelvin...

Although he’s had a hectic playing schedule the past few seasons, Esks defensive lineman Kelvin Kinney has become a victim of the numbers game. (Robert Taylor, Edmonton Sun)

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

When it comes to maps of the Himalayas, K2 denotes the second-highest peak in the world. In the Edmonton Eskimos locker room K2 denotes Kelvin Kinney, the mountain of a defensive end.

While K2 may be doing a slow burn these days, Kinney isn't about to blow his top - at least not publicly.

Kinney huddled with defensive line coach Dan Kepley for about 20 minutes following Tuesday's practice. He then had a brief tete-a-tete with head coach Tom Higgins.

"That was nothing at all," Kinney said yesterday. "I'm a happy camper. It's tough not playing when you're used to playing. The team's winning. Back on the right track. What else do you want? That's what we all want."

DECLINED COMMENT

Kinney declined comment when asked if he'd requested his release or a trade. Kinney did, however, shoot down the notion he would clean out his locker and blow town.

"You can always get on a flight," he said. "Just picking up and leaving, that would be like quitting. You can't just quit on guys now."

As his teammates prepared for yesterday's meetings, the six-foot-seven, 265-pounder stood waiting for defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall.

When Marshall arrived the pair held a five-minute, closed-door meeting.

"Kelvin is a little bit frustrated and I can understand that," Marshall said of the chat. "He wants to play. You can't blame the guy for that.

"I told him we're not dressing six (defensive linemen) like we were last year. We just don't have another roster spot. There was no animosity. He just wanted to state his position and how he felt.

"We talked about a bunch of different scenarios. I think he just wanted an opportunity to talk about his frustrations a bit.

"I don't know how much better he felt about it, but at least he had a chance to voice his opinion and find out what exactly the situation is."

Kinney, 31, is in his third season with the Esks. Between the Arena Football League, now defunct XFL and CFL, he's been playing football almost non-stop since 2000.

After signing a three-year contract extension with the AFL Tampa Bay Storm last December, the former Washington Redskin has no intention of slowing down any time soon.

So, for a guy who played in the 2002 Western Division final only days after having arthroscopic knee surgery, riding the pine isn't Kinney's cup of tea.

"Every guy wants to play, especially when you come off a good year - like I thought I did last year," offered Kinney, who has been on the roster for five of 12 games with his last appearance coming against Winnipeg four weeks ago.

"You've got to think about it on both sides. Is anybody playing that bad that I should be dressing? Should I not be dressing? It's just a question that needs to be answered. That's the way I look at it and they're saying, 'I guess not.' ''

Following his release by Toronto last season, Kinney headed west for his second tour of duty with the Esks and racked up 11 tackles and eight sacks in 10 games. He also had a pair of defensive tackles and a sack in the Grey Cup.

But with 21-year-old Rashad Jeanty and Rahim Abduallah, 28, holding down the starting end jobs this season, the Esks needed someone who can slip into the defensive-ine rotation.

Jabari Issa, 26, and 24-year-old DeMoine Adams have been shuffled on and off the roster to fill that bill. Rookie linebacker Antonio Wilson has also been on the roster at times but used primarily on special teams.

"Last year Kelvin was starting and the guy backing him up was playing special teams as well as rotating in," Marshall explained. "With Kelvin, he's strictly a defensive guy.

"He's not going to bring a lot to the table special teams-wise. He can do a little bit but not near as much as if you put Jabari, DeMoine or Antonio on. They play all the special teams and can play on defence."

UNDERSTANDS HAND HE'S BEEN DEALT

Although miffed, Kinney understands the hand he's been dealt and the situation he now finds himself in.

"There's a lot of young guys here," he said. "For them, it's a game. But it's also a business. You always look at the future. You're winning now, but how could I be better next year?

"If I've got a guy that's going to be here and only play here for me, I'll put the time and necessary efforts into him to make him into a good football player.

"Why do it with a guy who'll go down to the arena season and, lo and behold, blow an ACL? The same guy you're depending on. Why do that?"

Regardless of how disenchanted Kinney may or may not be, with the team on a four-game win streak he isn't likely to be added to the roster any time soon.

"Right now, we can't afford him that opportunity and he's just going to have to be patient," Higgins said. "He's just waiting his turn. And it's a tough thing to have to sit and wait."


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