Eskimos 'rookie' knocks the rust off

Players work out during the Edmonton Eskimos rookie camp Wednesday. (GERRY MODDEJONGE/QMI Agency)

Players work out during the Edmonton Eskimos rookie camp Wednesday. (GERRY MODDEJONGE/QMI Agency)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:00 AM ET

EDMONTON - Daniel Porter is a rookie all over again.

The reigning Edmonton Eskimos nominee for Most Outstanding Rookie is enrolled in this week’s rookie camp, despite exploding onto the CFL scene with four consecutive 100-yard-rushing games to end the 2010 season.

“I played six games, so that’s why I came back. I’m happy to be back, though,” said Porter, who wouldn’t have been eligible for the early sessions had he played one more game last year.

He didn’t need any more to make his impact felt. The late addition came off the practice roster to fill in for the injured Arkee Whitlock, amassing 603 yards on 86 carries for an average of 7.0 yards per rushing attempt and a pair of touchdowns. While those numbers were stretched out over six games, the bulk came from the four he started, which all tipped the 100-yard mark to earn the team’s nomination for Most Outstanding Rookie.

“I came from college, Louisiana Tech, I was doing 100 yards every game anyway,” said Porter, who set the school’s career rushing record in 2009. “And last year, we had a great offensive line. We just pushed behind and got behind them. We just had that bond and went from there, rushed for 100 yards every time.

“I give it all to my offensive line.”

While he’s used to setting the bar high for himself, Porter said he’s not expecting to just come in and pick things up where he left off.

“You never start where you leave off, I’ll just come out here and rebuild,” he said. “I know I’ve got to work hard again. It’s a new season, a new me and everything. I’ve just got to work my way back up there again.”

And what better place to start than some initial steps prior to Sunday’s main camp?

“Better for him, better for us,” said new running backs coach Dennis McKnight. “I don’t care how many years you’ve been in the league, the technique through the off-season gets a little rusty.

“To come in early, I’ve got to believe that by the time the main camp starts, he’s that much ahead with a jump on people.”

Besides, it’s not like he’s going to be put through the ol’ rookie hazing routine.

“Like I told him: ‘You can’t get caught up in that,’ “ said McKnight, who spent 11 seasons as an offensive lineman in the NFL. “I was in my fifth year with the Chargers and I was still coming to camp early with the rookies. Why? I’m taking reps away from that guy trying to get my job.

“You can’t get caught up in egos. If you don’t check them at the practice field or the door, you’re in trouble.”

DAY 1: It’s been a long time coming for Kavis Reed, who took to the field for his first practice as a CFL head coach.

“I’m just excited to be back on the field,” he said. “I saw a lot of very good things from a lot of young guys.”

The coach singled out the performances of ex-NFL receiver Jonathan Holland and Dinos receiver Nate Coehoorn from Wednesday’s session.

IN AND OUT: Eskimos top draft pick OL Scott Mitchell hadn’t completed his medical evaluation in time for Wednesday’s session, while DB Ron Kelly failed his.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

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