Campbell a huge asset

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

Early on in training camp, it was evident Kelly Campbell had talent.

How that talent would transfer to the CFL, however, was the biggest question surrounding the former Georgia Tech star.

After three games, 14 catches - the most of any receiver on the team - and a pair of touchdowns, it seems Campbell is settling in just fine.

"It's been a little different than what I expected," Campbell said.

"I had to get used to and am still getting used to how big that field is. There is so much field that you can use. Sometimes in a game I'll catch a ball, turn up field and not realize how much more field I have in order to get yardage.

"I'm still getting used to and accustomed to it. But I'm having fun out there. It's an exciting game, definitely a game for a receiver."

Campbell, 27, had his breakout party in the Eskimos' 34-31 victory over the Calgary Stampeders two weeks ago.

While Jason Tucker stole the show with a one-handed circus catch to win the contest, it was Campbell's eight receptions for 158 yards with two touchdowns that had the Eskimos in a position to snatch the victory.

CAMPBELL DID IT AGAIN

Last week against the Toronto Argonauts, Campbell led the Eskimos receivers with 71 yards gained on three catches.

He has a team-leading 269 yards receiving through the first three games and is averaging a team-hi 19.2 yards per catch.

"He's fit in really well," said Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray. "He's having a good start to the season.

"It took a while, early on in training camp, trying to get used to his speed and the different things he does.

"He runs great routes. He reminds me a lot of Mookie Mitchell the way he runs routes. It took a few weeks in training camp to get used to him, but I'm pretty comfortable with him now."

Campbell signed with the Eskimos as a free agent earlier this year. The native of Atlanta, Ga., who owns practically every receiving record at Georgia Tech, signed with the Minnesota Vikings out of college.

He played with the Vikings for three years before he ended up in Edmonton via Miami.

"He's one of the fastest guys I've played with," said Ray. "There are not too many guys that can match his speed. He can really put a lot of pressure on the defensive backs whether it's going deep or running stuff underneath."

Along with Tucker, who is considered the de facto leader of a talented receiving corps, Kelly is quickly establishing himself as one of the team's go-to players.

He's developing a great rapport with Ray and is one of the first players the Eskimos quarterback looks for in key situations.

"In training camp Ricky seemed to have a pretty good understanding where Kelly was going to be in certain routes," said Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia. "He's hitting him in full stride right now. It seems like Kelly is catching the ball in full stride and is able to make things happen after he catches the ball. Clearly he can run by people. That's something that we definitely need."

FOURTH-LEADING RECEIVER

Campbell is currently the fourth-leading receiver in the league. It is expected Ray will rely on him heavily this weekend when the Eskimos head to Toronto for their return encounter with the Argonauts.

"We're getting there," Campbell said. "It started off a little shaky at the beginning, being that I'm new to the league and new to the team.

"It's always going to take a little time before a quarterback and a receiver get in that role. But he's learned my speed now and he's doing a very good job laying the ball out there and we're making plays."


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