Kabongo set for CFL debut

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

It'll be a baptism of fire for Patrick Kabongo.

The trimmed-down Kabongo came to the Edmonton Eskimos from Ottawa as a defensive tackle last season.

Friday night he'll line up against the organization that traded him away as the Esks' starting right tackle.

"It's exciting," smiled the six-foot-six, 315-pound Kabongo. "I want to go out there and do a tremendous job."

Were veteran Chris Morris not on the one-game injured list, the 25-year-old likely wouldn't be making his CFL debut.

But with Morris nursing what is believed to be a knee injury, Kabongo gets the call for the Green and Gold's home opener.

"Sometimes in life, you've got to do different things," offered Kabongo, who shed 30-plus pounds during the off-season.

"You can either mope about it or you can put all of yourself into it and do the best you can and learn along the way.

"That's where I'm at. I'm happy that I made the change. Chris and Bruce (Beaton) have helped me out a ton. I'm learning every day and getting better every day."

After arriving in town last August, the Zaire-born lineman figured his future with the Esks was on the defensive side of the ball.

Edmonton's brass wasn't convinced that was the best fit for Kabongo.

"Things can change within a second," he said.

"I thought I had a future (on the defensive line) but things change.

"And it's fine if things change for the best.

"I'm glad I play defence but I'm more excited to play offence. Quite frankly, I've got to run less. So it's been great and I enjoy it."

Esks rookie head coach Danny Maciocia has no qualms about starting Kabongo at tackle.

According to Maciocia, Kabongo rendered better than yeoman service during Edmonton's two pre-season games versus the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

And handling the quartet of Tom Canada, Joe Fleming, Doug Brown and Antwon Young is no easy task for any veteran or rookie offensive lineman.

"That's one of the better fronts you're going to face in the CFL," Maciocia said. "I thought he did a pretty good job of hanging in there."


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