Esks expect seamless transition

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:41 PM ET

EDMONTON - You can call Kelly Campbell a lot of things: speedster, playmaker …

Just don’t refer to him as a ratio-breaker.

“This does not affect our ratio one bit,” said Edmonton Eskimos general manager Danny Maciocia, who was the team’s head coach in 2008 when Campbell led the league in yards per catch as a rookie. “We know how we’re going to be structured: we’re going to have six Canadian starters offensively and one Canadian starter defensively, so you’ve got your quota of seven.

“Americans battle Americans, Canadians battle Canadians, that’s the nature of the CFL.”

Import slotback Jason Barnes doesn’t see the added competition for the starting job he held at the end of last season as a problem.

“He was supposed to come back last year, so we kind of went through the same thing,” said Barnes. “But it doesn’t change how I look at things, I’m still going to come out here and compete every day because everybody’s still looking for a job.

“I mean, nothing’s etched in stone yet.”

Barnes, who began his rookie season on the practice roster in 2009, finished the year with four straight starts in the place of the injured Maurice Mann.

“It’s not going to change anything,” Barnes said of Campbell’s return. “It’s just going to elevate the level of competition all around, which is only going to make us better.”

The best scenario Barnes can see is a starting role next to Campbell.

“That would be pretty dynamic,” Barnes said. “It would be a nice little corps, so I’m definitely looking forward to (the chance).”

Veteran slotback Kamau Peterson welcomed Campbell back with open arms.

“Kelly’s family,” said Peterson. “We won a lot of games with Kelly. He’s a tremendous player as everybody knows.

“We expected him back last year, didn’t get him back last year, so we’ll gladly have him back this year. He’s coming into an already very competitive and talented group so we’re just strengthened that much more.”

As a non-import, Peterson won’t be competing directly with Campbell for a roster spot.

“I don’t even look at it like that,” Peterson said. “We’re so competitive and thick, regardless. We’ve got three of the top five receivers of the last two years statistically all in the same corps and that’s just a spoil of riches for Ricky (Ray) and coach (Kevin) Strasser.

“The good thing is we’ve got a bunch of team guys and character guys that like each other.”

And that includes offence and defence, although the secondary’s job just got a lot more difficult.

“It will definitely be a good test,” said veteran cornerback Jason Goss, who played with Goss in 2008. “We already have a guy like Fred Stamps making the secondary stronger, now we have Kelly Campbell back in. They’re working everyone on both sides of the field.

“You can’t just focus on one guy now, we’ve got multiple guys that can make plays. Actually, we’ve got more than just those two that can make plays on the offensive side.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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