'I'm coming back'

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

REGINA -- Kelly Wiltshire is determined to beat the odds.

Although he can't walk - and won't be able to for at least another month - the gritty Edmonton Eskimo is refusing to leave football behind.

After absorbing a wicked low block from Calgary Stampeder Nik Lewis in early September, football experts thought Wiltshire's career was over. But even though he's 34 and is just coming off major leg surgery, the Montreal native has a burning desire to return to the field next year.

"I'm really going to prepare myself to come back," he said before watching the Eskimos battle the Saskatchewan Roughriders last night. "You have to be aggressive.

"I can be like: 'Well, oh, I just want to walk.'

"(But) no, I'm coming back to play. I'm really going to rehab and attack it as such."

TRYING TO SHAKE A BAD MEMORY

Fueling that desire to play again is the fact he doesn't want the highly-publicized Lewis block to be his last memory.

"I don't want to end this way," he continued.

"I still have another year under contract with Edmonton."

Of course, if he returns to playing shape, there's no guarantee the Eskimos would make room for Wiltshire to play again - and he knows that.

Before he was injured, he had lost his starting safety job and was relegated to special teams. And when the 2007 season starts, the 10-year CFL vet will be 35, an age that scares many teams.

But on the positive side, the Lewis block didn't blow apart the ACL in his right knee, which was the original report from the Eskimos. Unfortunately, that's the extent of the good news on the injury front because his leg is still a mess.

When he went under the knife in September, the MCL became a concern, but more importantly he had a broken tibia - the major bone that connects the foot to the knee.

The Eskimos medical team had to insert a plate and screws into the leg.

Following his rehab assignment, though, Wiltshire has a list of goals, which starts this week when he returns to his Toronto home.

"And my next step is to want to walk and after that it's going to be running and then jumping," explained the two-time Grey Cup champ.

Wiltshire doesn't have precise timeline for when he will be able to walk again and is trying to take it slow.

"My leg feels good and I want to do back flips," he cracked. "But that doesn't mean I'm going to land right. I'd rather stay off my feet for an extra four weeks.

"With ligaments you can put a little pressure on it, but when it's a broken bone, you want to heal and seal up. And it's boring and tough, but it's a mental battle that I'm enduring right now because I feel good."

LOFTUS LENDED A HELPING HAND

That certainly wasn't the case when he came out of hospital - but thankfully teammate Will Loftus offered a critical helping hand.

"I don't know how I would have made it if I didn't move here (to Loftus' apartment)," said Wiltshire. "My bed is on the ground (at my place) and my sofa is too small.

"The first two or three days were very, very difficult and he was there for me, feeding me and everything."

But now, Loftus - who's recovering from a less serious hamstring injury - can't keep him still.

"The guy lives like a man of steel," said Loftus.

"He's rolling around the apartment, you can't keep him on the couch."

And in Wiltshire's perfect world, nobody will keep him off the field next year.


Videos

Photos