The Beaton goes on

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

Bruce Beaton isn't a huge fan of retirement.

The 36-year-old will take the drudgery of training camp over looking after the 50 rental units he owns back home in Nova Scotia any day.

Following a roughly 18-month flirtation with life after football, the six-foot-five, 287-pound offensive tackle wanted back in the game.

"I bought all kinds of property and was in fixing them up and doing floors, painting and all the stuff I hate," chuckled Beaton, who retired following the Edmonton Eskimos 2003 Grey Cup victory to spend more time with his family and concentrate on expanding his real estate empire.

"I'm the least-handy guy around. These hands are good for blocking and not so good at the monotony of swatting a paint brush back and forth.

"I just don't have the temperament for that kind of stuff. Plus, you get used to four-and-a-half hour days in this league. Apparently, that's not a whole workday anywhere else."

ITCHING TO RETURN

Beaton began itching to return shortly after the 2004 CFL season opened last June.

The Acadia University product trained sporadically - tossing logs, beer kegs and tractor tires about his back yard four hours at a time - throughout the summer.

With the arrival of his second child looming and a growing business on his hands at this time last year, exiting retirement early wasn't an option.

When Danny Maciocia was named to succeed Tom Higgins as head coach last December, Beaton's son Samuel was almost six months old. Still looking to scratch the itch, Beaton picked up the phone ahead of Christmas.

Although a huge Maciocia fan, Beaton is an even bigger fan of quarterback Jason Maas.

Naturally, Beaton was looking forward to riding shotgun for Maas again this season.

ADDS TO THE RUSH

The fact he could be protecting Ricky Ray rather than Maas doesn't diminish the thrill of being back on the field. It only adds to the rush.

"I have so much respect for Danny and Jason for different reasons," Beaton said through a huge smile. "I think they're very talented at what they do.

"Initially, I felt bad for Jason when Ricky re-signed until I called and found out how it all shook down. (Maas and Ray) have a very special relationship that I don't think anyone else in the league have."

A wily veteran and perennial all-star, the start of his 12th CFL training camp was no different than any of the previous 11.

"It's kind of bizarre," Beaton offered, following the team's first two-a-day session. "I don't feel rusty. I don't feel any different than I have any other year. I like the feel here and how hard everybody is working.

"I like that there's no Grey Cup hangover this year. This is a hungry group. I don't know what to say, other than I couldn't enjoy it any more than I am. I almost feels like I played last year."

Maciocia was skeptical about Beaton's ability to bounce back following the layoff, which included a significant weight loss by the mammoth Cape Bretoner.

Based on his performance yesterday, Beaton - who trimmed down to 255 pounds after retiring but has since bulked up - was able to erase any reservations Maciocia might have had.

"He looks pretty good," beamed Maciocia. "We had that inside run period and he looked pretty good. It seems like he was actually here last year and he hasn't missed a beat.

"As a coach, you need to see it with your own eyes. You always ask yourself, 'How will he be?' When he comes out you want reassurance that he is OK. He hasn't lost anything whatsoever. He looks fresh and he's just excited to be back."

With centre Tim Prinsen forced into retirement and team brass honouring Dan Comiskey's off-season trade request, Beaton's return to a deplete offensive line couldn't have been more timely.

"He helps out in so many ways, it's ridiculous," said Maas. "We all see it, we all understand it. I think all the quarterbacks and running backs are thankful that he's back."


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