Jason gets downright jovial

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

REGINA -- The old Jason Tucker has left the Edmonton Eskimos.

Meet the new No. 83 - he actually talks at length in public, actually jokes around with the media.

Gone is the laconic lanky receiver.

Don't worry, this new Tucker can catch the ball better than almost anyone else in the CFL.

But he will also fill your tape recorder with zany comments.

Take yesterday, for example.

While the rest of the Eskimos were getting ready for a light practice at Mosaic Stadium to prepare for this afternoon's game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Tucker was trying to convince the media he had a twin.

The old No. 83 - the quiet one - we are accustomed to seeing had apparently left the country.

"I told him to stay at home and I would come to Canada to play football this year. Jason No. 2 (I am)," cracked Tucker.

"Jason No. 1 is looking after the ranch (in Texas)."

On a much more serious note, Tucker dropped his shy, quiet act because veteran Ed Hervey has retired.

"With Ed being gone - one of our key guys, one of the vocal leaders - I kind of took it upon myself to say: 'I am in the position now. I am the old guy of the receiving core. I have to step up a little bit more. Take a little bit more on me,' " said Tucker.

So, in reality, this new Jason Tucker we are seeing is becoming a vocal leader, someone who is going to handle the media more - handling the fun and not-so-fun issues when needed.

"Anytime you can have a guy who produces on the field to a great extent to (become) vocal and be a leader off the field, it is beneficial to the team," said defensive leader A.J. Gass.

This funny, charismatic version of Tucker is actually no stranger to the veteran Eskimos who have watched him behind the scenes for years.

"He is no different than the Jason Tucker I first met in 2002," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia.

"You're just getting to see a little bit more of it. He has always been a joker.

"All those bicycles that you saw with the seats missing by the locker room (last year), that was him."

The six-year Eskimo veteran slotback also played a key role in the prank played on Trevor Gaylor last year, when his locker was unceremoniously emptied.

Gaylor actually thought he had been cut from the team and said his goodbyes to friends before being let in on the gag.

This year, Tucker is having a barrel of laughs with the media, finding different ways to explain his playing status.

After not practicing all week with a knee/thigh injury, he will play today.

But when asked yesterday about his status, he refused to give a straightforward answer.

Here is one reply: "Maybe I'll consult my psychic, Miss Cleo, and see what the cards read for the day."

For reporters and fans around the country, this routine of determining his playing status will likely continue for weeks to come.

In the dog days of summer, entertaining quotes are always welcome.


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