Adam Braidwood knows about the sophomore jinx.
At least enough to try to avoid it.
"All that talk about the sophomore slump is what motivated me this off-season," Braidwood said yesterday.
"I want to get better. I want to be the best that I can be for my teammates and I want to show that last year wasn't just a fluke, that I can come out and still be a factor in this league."
Braidwood, 23, made quite the splash in his first CFL season. The top pick in the 2006 draft was made the Edmonton Eskimos starting defensive end six games into the year.
He finished the season with 20 defensive tackles, four sacks, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a touchdown.
His coming out party came against the Calgary Stampeders in the Labour Day rematch, when he had a pair of tackles, two sacks and forced three fumbles - including one that he recovered and ran in for a touchdown.
The performance earned the Delta, B.C. native lineman of the week honours.
"I think Adam's done a great job so far, and we're expecting big things from him again this year," said Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia.
"He's one of the guys I'm expecting to pick up where a few of the guys that are no longer here left off as far as leadership is concerned."
A graduate of Washington State University, Braidwood developed a lot faster than the Eskimos expected him to last season.
The plan was to bring him along slowly, but the Eskimos quickly realized they were a lot better off with Braidwood on the field.
"There are a lot of things he can do for us," Maciocia said. "Adam is a blue-collar guy. He's not going to wow you with his speed, he'll get to the quarterback because he's able to overpower those offensive tackles that he'll line up against on a weekly basis."
Braidwood may not have dazzling speed, but he's a lot faster heading into this season.
Moonlighting as a mixed martial arts fighter in the off-season, Braidwood shed more than 20 pounds for his debut bout in February. He decided to keep the weight off.
"I talked to a few players and they told me to keep my weight down, so after my fight I decided to keep it off," Braidwood said.
"I feel a lot better, a lot faster. This game is all about speed. The strength is still there. I kept up with my weights. I just watched my diet a bit more and I did a lot more running."
After such an impressive rookie season, Braidwood expects to garner a bit more attention on the line of scrimmage this season. However he'll have the luxury of lining up alongside talented veterans Jabari Issa and Rob Brown as well as promising rookie Brandon Guillory.
They make a formidable front four.
"If teams pay more attention to me this year, that's fine because we have so many good players that if a team wants to focus on me we have other guys that can make plays," Braidwood said.
"Then they'll have to switch things up and hopefully I can go back to making plays again. But I'm not too worried about that. I think I'm a better player than I was last year. Maybe people will still be underestimating me this season, so we'll see what happens."