That TD was for the family

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

WINNIPEG –- Edmonton is a long way from Rock Hill, S.C.

But the Eskimos just got a little closer to home for Arkee Whitlock.

The running back scored the team's first touchdown in their NFL Network debut last Saturday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

And he’ll have a chance to do it again this week.

While it received more exposure than if the game was televised on its usual channel, TSN, Whitlock said he went into the game with a business-as-usual mindset.

“I haven’t really thought about it, man. I’m so used to just going out and trying to do my job I’m not really paying attention to what I do,” he said.

“It’s just doing what’s necessary at that moment and trying to make plays for my team.”

Whitlock found himself caught up in the moment, giving a shout out to his family and hometown on camera when he got back to the sidelines.

“I was pretty excited,” he said.

“My family back home, they never get to see games and that was an opportunity for everybody from my hometown to get to watch. They never really knew what was going on with me being that I’m in Canada.

“All my friends are in the NFL, even those guys got a chance to watch. So I just wanted to get the chance to give those guys a shout out to kind of represent where I come from. I’m just blessed to have an opportunity to be on television playing football.”

The exposure the entire league is getting though a new deal with the NFL Network hasn’t gone unnoticed by CFL players.

“A lot of guys, we talked about it. I think that’s real big for us,” Whitlock said.

“I think that’s a big step for the CFL, getting on the main stage. That’s the channel that everybody watches, it’s nothing but football all day.

“And right now, there’s no NFL training camp or anything so everybody’s watching CFL football. Now we’ve got to get some wins so when teams do watch us, they know.”

Last Saturday wasn’t the first time Whitlock’s family watched the Eskimos play on TV, but before the NFL Network, they’d have to go through the hassle of tracking it down on an obscure cable channel.

“It’s a lot easier this year and very beneficial for my family and friends,” he said.

“I’m excited to get an opportunity to play on it again this weekend.”

Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will air at 4:30 p.m., where Whitlock will look for a repeat of his scoring performance.

“Getting in the end zone was good, it showed I have a knack for trying to find ways to get in there,” Whitlock said of last Saturday.

“It’s a bunch of little steps leading to success for us, we’re just putting them all together now. Once we get this thing rolling, we’ll be fine.

“You know what would have been a cooler moment, if we would have got that ‘W’ and the touchdown, that’s the best of both worlds.”

IN AND OUT: KR Skyler Green (leg), FB Graeme Bell (ankle) and SB Kamau Peterson (ankle) sat out of practice Thursday and will not play Sunday. DT Justin Brown is expected to be a healthy scratch Saturday to make room for the returning Dario Romero, who’s been out the entire regular season.


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