If it takes a big man to admit his mistakes, it takes a mountain of an individual to correct them.
That’s exactly what Edmonton Eskimos offensive lineman Patrick Kabongo did after getting pulled partway through the game in Moncton two weeks ago, and responding last Sunday with a performance every bit as big as his six-foot-seven, 315-pound frame.
“Players play, coaches coach, you know?” said the seven-year veteran. “When they told me I wasn’t going in, it wasn’t my decision. It was theirs and I said, ‘OK.’
“So I went back on the sidelines, encouraging everybody.”
Recent acquisition Kelly Bates took his place, helping jumpstart an offensive push that saw the Eskimos win the Scotiabank Touchdown Atlantic game 24-6 over the Toronto Argonauts.
“You can’t look back and be like, ‘How come they did this or that?’ You’ve just got to go with it,” Kabongo said. “I’ve just got to work on my skills or my technique and things that I need to work on. And that’s all.”
After a strong week of practice, Kabongo resumed his regular role at right guard, playing the complete 60 minutes in last Sunday’s 37-35 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
“It was a big game this week,” Kabongo said. “Every week, I’m going to come out and play. Every game, I’m going to give it all I’ve got. And for me, the biggest thing is to go out there and do well for the team.
“And the most important is winning. It’s never about Patrick Kabongo, it’s never about one person on this team because as a whole, it’s the entire Edmonton Eskimos.”
Kabongo said the benching didn’t get him all riled up or anything, but he did get the message.
“I practise the way I practise, like I do every week,” he said. “You can’t play this game looking back. There’s no could-have, should-have there. You’ve got to go and just do it. That’s what I did.”
But Kabongo hasn’t been the only one picking his game up recently, as the entire Eskimos offensive line has contributed to the recent win streak, with quarterback Ricky Ray getting sacked just once in the last two games.
“I think (O-line coach) Tim Prinsen did a very good job just going through some schemes and stuff like that with (offensive co-ordinator Kevin) Strasser,” Kabongo said. “We just keep on plugging away and working hard. It’s not like we weren’t doing that before.”
And now, with Bates proving himself more than capable of filling in under any circumstance that comes up, the Eskimos are looking for a big push up front down the playoff stretch.
“It’s always good to have depth because certain things can happen,” he said. “The one thing you’ve got to remember is the O-line is never one person. It’s very much a group.”
IN AND OUT: DT Dee Sterling (knee) and DB Lenny Walls (leg) were placed on the nine-game injured list prior to last Sunday’s game, marking an end to their 2010 season.
DE Kai Ellis, SB Kamau Peterson, DB Lawrence Gordon and SB Andre Talbot returned to practice after being placed on the one-game injured list last week.
SB Kelly Campbell, SB Brad Smith and RB Brad Lester did not practice Tuesday. MLB Maurice Lloyd sat out to rest.