Canadian, eh

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

There's a saying in the CFL that a team is only as good as its worst Canadian player.

Danny Maciocia knows very well what that adage is all about.

"When half of your roster is composed of Canadians you'd better have strong Canadian content if you're going to make any noise in November," said the Eskimos head coach.

When Maciocia first took charge of the Eskimos before the start of last season, he made it a top priority to improve the calibre of Canadians he had in the locker room. A year after the retooling project began, the reviews are in.

"We're a lot better," said non-import defensive tackle Steve Charbonneau.

In fact, Charbonneau, who is in his fifth year as an Eskimo and 10th in the league, figures the Canadian contingent is stronger right across the CFL. But he disregards the homegrown label when it comes to his own play.

"I don't want to be on the field because I'm Canadian," said the native of Cowansville, Que.

"I want to be on the team because I've shown at training camp that I belong on the field - whether I'm Canadian or not. I feel I've done that and now I preach by example. I want other Canadians to know that if they want to play a long time in the league they've got to work hard and they can't take for granted they're Canadian."

Charbonneau is a likely starter on the defensive line, but he is one of only a few Canucks on the Esks who are in what would be considered a starring role.

Sean Fleming can be the hero from time to time with his field goals and perhaps Dahrran Deidrick will break loose a big run. But for the most part, the Canadians are far from the spotlight.

"I had the glamour role as the quarterback at Laval University and always had the media around me, but I'm comfortable with what I've got now and I'm enjoying my role," said fullback Mathieu Bertrand.

Like most Canadians, Bertrand's first break in the CFL came as a grunt on special teams. He and fellow homegrown fullbacks Mike Maurer and Deitan Dubuc have come to realize that their roles aren't necessary pretty, but that they are vital to the team's success.

"Special teams is so important is this league," said Bertrand. "I want to be involved and make tackles so I can help put the defence in a nice position when they come on."

LATE HITS: OL Dan Comiskey missed his third straight day of practice as he attends to family business ... SB Jason Tucker sat out practice but doesn't seem to be suffering from post-concussion syndrome. He won't dress tomorrow.


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