Bertrand away from spotlight

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

Mathieu Bertrand went from playing a high-profile position to a no-profile position.

The Edmonton Eskimos fullback has quietly gone about his business this season with little fanfare and even less recognition.

The Eskimos have had a revolving door of running backs in the backfield this season, but Bertrand has remained a constant figure at fullback.

Not bad for a guy who until joining the Eskimos last season was a quarterback.

"In my opinion, he's one of the premier fullbacks in the CFL,'' said Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia. "He's a guy that goes unnoticed because of the number of touches he gets in a football game. But he's just like a sixth offensive lineman out there with the blocks that he throws for our tailbacks."

IMPORTANT SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER

On occasion, the Eskimos will use Bertrand out of the backfield and throw him the ball. The native of Chambly, Que., is also an important special teams player. And on that rare occasion, the 27-year-old will get a carry or two. This season Bertrand has eight carries for 25 yards.

It's his blocking ability, however, that will be key when the Eskimos travel to Calgary to take on the Stampeders in the regular-season finale tomorrow.

"For a kid playing in his second year in the CFL, having no prior experience playing any other position but the quarterback position, to have the physical presence and impact that he's had here the last two years is unbelievable,'' said Maciocia. "He's the kind of guy that at the end of the day, when you go back to the office and grade the film, he always grades well.

"You know he'll do his job because that's the kind of guy that he is. He's a fierce competitor and he takes his job serious and he's a proud individual."

A graduate of Laval University, Bertrand threw for 2,395 yards and 17 touchdowns in his final year. He was named the Quebec conference MVP and was a Hec Crighton Trophy nominee.

Originally drafted by the Montreal Alouettes, Bertrand was signed by the Eskimos as a free agent last year and converted to fullback.

"It wasn't that tough a transition because I was an aggressive quarterback,'' Bertrand said. "Technically, I had to work a lot on my footwork and get stronger because I have to play against bigger guys right now.

"I've had good hands since I was young, so I knew I could catch a ball. But it's fun, because I was playing quarterback since I was 11 years old and to learn something new, I'm just enjoying it.''

260-POUND QUARTERBACK

As a 260-pound quarterback at Laval, Bertrand actually had to lose weight in order to make the transition to fullback.

"I just tried to lose as much weight as I could, because I have to play on special teams as well,'' Bertrand said. "I have to run a lot and had to get faster. Last year I was at 235, and this year I'm at 225. I think 225 is better for me.''


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