EDMONTON - Well done, Mr. Brown!
Weldon Brown was playing in his first preseason game as an Edmonton Eskimos rookie, but the defensive back might as well have been back in high school.
Filling in for kick returner Tristan Jackson, who left Sunday’s game against the Calgary Stampeders early on, Brown returned the ball five times for 136 yards.
“I love returns, man. It takes me back to high school playing running back,” said Brown, a five-foot-10, 185-pound Louisiana Tech product who attended Bossier high school in that same state. “Any chance the coach let me get in, I thought like a running back every time.”
Coming on in relief of Jackson, who injured his shoulder after returning just one kick for 22 yards, Brown averaged better than 27 yards per return.
“The game is fun,” Brown said of his inaugural CFL experience. “Three downs, you’re out, I’m playing a lot of special teams so it’s something I’m familiar at, playing in college.
“I had a good time.”
He knows he may be called upon at any opportunity, even getting in on some coverages in the secondary late in the game. But it's preseason, it’s all about seizing opportunities.
“I have to capitalize in practice, I have to capitalize every day, watching more film, as far as my technique (I have to) practise more and soak in everything that coaches are telling us,” Brown said.
Before taking a knee to the helmet, Skyler Green returned Calgary’s first punt 49 yards before Ricky Ray and he offence scored a 20-yard touchdown pass to slotback Jason Barnes.
“I had one short drive that we scored a touchdown on and that’s huge,” said Ray. “That’s what special teams is out there to do, is to change field position and they were able to do it.”
The special teams effort did not go unnoticed Sunday as coaches continued training camp evaluations, this time in a game environment.
“This is a chance in preseason to see what these guys can do and I thought they did a good job,” said special teams co-ordinator Noel Thorpe. “I thought the guys did an excellent job. We’re kind of where we’re at with one week of training camp under our belt. (Special teams) has been a huge emphasis for us from Day 1.”
And it paid off in the form of consistent performances on Sunday.
“I thought our return game’s been good and I think we did a good job minimizing their return game,” said head coach Richie Hall. “What really impressed me, especially late in the game, you have people that are tired. But still they’re running down there, they’re still making plays and that’s what you want out of your football team.
“They always say you can judge your football team by your special teams.”
CAMP CUTS: With teams required to trim rosters by the end of preseason next week, don’t expect the Eskimos to make any sudden moves now that they have game film.
“We’ll have to make those decisions, but we won’t know that until the next day or two,” said Hall. “You don’t want to make rash decisions overnight.
“The other thing is how many healthy bodies we have, because after a game you always have a fair number of guys that are nicked.”