Underdog Rabe battling

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

Life hasn't exactly been easy for Russel Rabe.

So then why would Edmonton Eskimo training camp be any different?

A rookie defensive end, the 24-year-old import is fighting with Mike Murphy for a spot somewhere with the Green and Gold.

But if his past is any indication, don't count out Rabe making the club.

A walk-on at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, he not only made the team but left with a full scholarship and the school record for all-time sacks.

Not bad - especially considering his father suddenly died of a heart attack in 2002 during his sophomore year.

"He was my inspiration," said Rabe on his father.

"It was a big difference once it all happened (and he died). Who do I call? Who do I talk to about (football)?"

Rabe actually contemplated leaving the sport behind. But he stuck with the game and has found himself in Edmonton after bouncing around NFL camps without playing a regular season game.

"I feel like I have impressed some of the coaches. They have seen what I can do," said Rabe before tonight's pre-season game in Calgary against the Stampeders.

"I think it just comes down to this game here and putting an extra exclamation point on it."

Adam Braidwood has one defensive end spot completely wrapped up while Brandon Guillory has the inside track on the other.

That leaves Murphy and Rabe battling for a backup job.

While Murphy can long snap - potentially giving him a leg up on Rabe due to versatility - the coaching staff has certainly noticed No. 79 on the field.

"Undersized rush end (but) an abundance of speed," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia on Rabe, a 6-2, 230 pounder.

"I have said this many times this week: his motor never, ever stops. He just plays at one speed. That excites coaches.

"You would like to have someone that can give you 65 quality snaps, which is a rarity in the course of a football game."

Now Rabe has to prove his worth tonight at McMahon Stadium - and he knows exactly what his dad would tell him if he was still alive.

"Get after it and have some fun," he said of his dad's words of wisdom.


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