Eskies third-stringer just needs a chance

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:02 PM ET

EDMONTON - EDMONTON - Theres no doubt Jared Zabransky has the pedigree to become the face of the franchise, it just might not be this franchise.

The Edmonton Eskimos third-stringer is entering his contract year as a sophomore CFLer behind veterans Jason Maas and starter Ricky Ray.

The top throwing spot isnt exactly a point of training-camp contention, considering Ray earned it in his rookie season seven years ago, but that doesnt mean Zabransky cant hope for his fair share of game snaps.

But did spending last season on the bench help him develop as a player?

Yes, Zabransky offered, as the Eskimos quarterbacks reported for preseason Friday at Clarke Park. Thats a good question because a lot of development comes from playing and I got some good experience on the practice field, but it doesnt translate the way that getting on the field and playing in the game does.

Officially, he made one start last year, which lasted all of one play.

A pitch to (running back Calvin) McCarty and then to have him get injured, that wasnt really the way I looked at that play going.

While his play key had him pitch the ball out to his teammate, it wasnt what his instincts told him.

I did what I was supposed to do on the play, he said. I would have liked to tuck it and try to go 80.

While the Ray-Maas tandem is known throughout the league for its passing prowess, Zabransky brings a more rounded athleticism to the Eskimos pocket.

Thats the difference I see between myself and everybody that plays this position in the world, Zabransky said. I think I have a knack for running the football and theres not many guys that youll see on the field in this league this year that can run with me, so I just want to get on the field.

The last starting spot Zabransky held was with the Boise State Broncos, where he also played with McCarty. It was there the mobile quarterback set a school record with an 84-yard touchdown run from scrimmage against Hawaii. In his senior season in 2006, Zabransky led the Broncos to a perfect 12-0 record before capturing the Fiesta Bowl in dramatic fashion over Oklahoma in overtime.

It was enough to earn him the coveted cover of the NCAA Football 08 video game.

Shoulder problems saw the undrafted free agent get cut from the NFLs Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers prior to heading north to his new league where he has regained his former form.

Now all he needs is the opportunity.

Its a big year for me, I just pray for the chance, said Zabransky, who is entering his contract year and couldnt be blamed if he ends up exploring his opportunities elsewhere in 2011.

My main objective last year was to be a good teammate and do what I could to help our team try to win football games. Its still going to be that way for me. Im still a team player first and an individual second. Our main goal as a football team is to go to the Grey Cup and win it.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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