Nothing for Grant-ed

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

Robert Grant was as much a victim of his own success as he was the Edmonton Eskimos' off-season Canadian invasion.

The one-time University of Hawaii running back cracked the Esks lineup right out of college in 2003, was Edmonton's nominee for the CFL's most outstanding rookie award and capped things off by winning a Grey Cup ring.

Used sparingly in Edmonton's first pre-season game, Grant was among the first-round of training-camp cuts. Earlier this week, the six-foot, 200-pound defender signed with the Ottawa Renegades.

"I figured with the coaching and defensive changes I really didn't fit the system," said Grant, who will line up against his former teammates when the Esks host Ottawa at Commonwealth Stadium tonight. "It was just a matter of time."

With no fewer than three non-imports capable of starting at a linebacking spot or in the secondary for the Esks this season, Grant was in tough even before training camp opened.

An accomplished artist, the 24-year-old Grant lined up at linebacker and in the secondary during his maiden CFL campaign and returned two of his five interceptions for touchdowns.

Despite a slow start in '04 Grant had what, by most standards, would have been a solid year in anybody's book, with 46 tackles and four picks.

But on the heels of stellar rookie season, by his own admission the Oakland native allowed complacency set in.

Clearly, being dumped by the Esks served as a wake-up call.

"I don't really think too much went wrong," Grant said.

"It was just a matter of growing as a player and not really taking the necessary steps to take it to the next level."

By landing on his feet in Ottawa, Grant was reunited with former Esks defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall and defensive back Quincy Coleman.

Both Coleman and Grant are familiar with the defensive scheme Marshall has implemented in Ottawa.

"I think Rob probably went through a period like a lot of people went through," Marshall said, looking back on the Esks' '04 campaign. "Maybe he was taking things for granted, at the beginning of the year.

"He didn't have a great start to the season. But I thought by the end of the season he played very well for us. When he did become available, I didn't hesitate to go and ask (head coach and general manager) Joe (Paopao) about the possibility of bringing him in."


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