A great catch for Esks

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

The words "tough little bugger" don't always translate into a compliment.

But that is the case with new Edmonton Eskimo receiver T.J. Acree.

Tipping the scales at 184 pounds and barely 5-foot-11, the import receiver is turning heads in Eskimoland with his hands and feet.

The second leading receiver in the CFL after Week 1 of the regular season, Acree has nine grabs for 123 yards.

"We like him an awful lot," said Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia. "He runs really well with the football.

"He is a tough little bugger.

"If you watch him catch the ball, he is not a guy that throws himself to the ground, slides or tries to run out of bounds.

"He will look for contact."

FORMER TEAM

And for an encore presentation, he plays his former team - the B.C. Lions - on Friday in Vancouver.

It's the same club that let him go into the free-agent market this winter without even making a single contract offer to him after being with the team for two years.

But nobody is complaining about the slight from the Lions - not Maciocia or Acree.

Both are just happy that former Lions assistant coach Jacques Chapdelaine wanted to bring him to Edmonton.

"I think Jacques liked what I did in B.C. and thought there was a little room for improvement," said Acree.

"I think he talked to Danny a little bit and they watched some film and came to the conclusion that they should at least give me a spot in camp."

A strong pre-season led to the Esks cutting veteran Mookie Mitchell.

That move surprised some. But after just one week in Edmonton, Acree has gobbled up nearly half of his entire yardage from last year with the Leos.

In eight games with the Lions last year, he had 28 catches for 266 yards.

"I feel really comfortable (in this offence)," continued Acree, 24.

"Jacques does a great job teaching us. We come in on our off days, kind of watch some film just to get ready for practice."

GOOD HANDLE

While he will certainly have a good handle on the B.C. defence on Friday night, that won't necessarily be a benefit while working against defensive back Dante Marsh.

"You think you got them down, but then they will switch something up because they have seen me for two years (in practice)," Acree explained.

"I am looking forward to seeing those guys."

And he will come in fresh off a new training technique.

Although it was close to 26C after lunch yesterday, Acree was running stairs outside the Eskimos locker room at Commonwealth Stadium.

"I saw somebody else do it and it looked like it might help," cracked the Idaho native.

"I am really not scientific in my work.

"It kind of helps with your form (the stairs) - making you get your knees up, getting to the next stair."


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