NFL uncertainty nets Esks Laurent

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:48 PM ET

EDMONTON - There’s no disputing the Edmonton Eskimos have just benefitted from the NFL labour dispute.

Ted Laurent put his NFL aspirations on the shelf so he wouldn’t have to be on it, deciding to start his professional career in the CFL instead of waiting around for some sort of resolution in the southern league.

“It seems like this is one of the times where we’ve benefitted from the lockout,” said head coach Kavis Reed. “This guy definitely has NFL talent. We talked to his mother. When you want to get a son up to Canada, speaking to mom is always good.”

The six-foot, 303-pound Ole Miss criminal justice major played in the 2011 East-West Shrine Game.

“It feels good, besides the weather, but it feels good to be here,” said Laurent, who hadn’t completed his medical in time to participate in Friday’s rookie practice. “I talked to my parents about it and they told me it was the best decision for me to come up here and start playing football because, with this NFL lockout, you don’t know how long it’s going to be.

“So I’m taking this opportunity. It’s a great opportunity for me to play for this organization, so I decided to come up here.”

That’s not to say he’s giving up on his dream of playing in the NFL.

“It’s going to be down the road. I plan on playing here for a couple years and bring some championships and helping the program,” he said. “I’m not getting dusty, I’m staying in shape and now I get the opportunity to play football again. I’m ready to go to work.”

Growing up in Montreal, Laurent had no aspirations to one day play in the CFL, or football at all, for that matter.

“Growing up, football wasn’t even in me,” he said. “When I moved to the States at the age of 12, that’s when I started picking up football, playing it and enjoying it.”

Laurent hadn’t even been following Monday’s CFL supplemental draft.

“I didn’t know. My agent had called me and told me that somebody was going to draft me,” he said. “I looked on the website and saw it. Friends that I’ve got in Montreal texted me and tweeted me to say I got drafted by the Eskimos.”

It was a dream come true for Edmonton, who gave up just a second-round selection in next year’s draft to acquire the rights to the non-import defensive lineman.

“It’s an opportunity for us to see someone who has been U.S.-trained, playing at a high level for a very long time, come up here and hopefully be a mainstay,” Reed said, smiling. “Hopefully that NFL thing doesn’t get resolved for the next 10-15 years.

“He is a ratio-changer. He’s a guy that’s going to allow us to do a lot of things defensively and as a team.”

Of course, his status as a Canadian-born player was something new to Laurent.

“I didn’t know about that import/non-import stuff until they told me about it, but it’s an advantage that I have,” he said. “I’m really excited to come out there and show what I can do.”

NO SWEAT: The Eskimo rookies passed their first real test in the eyes of Dwayne Mandrusiak. The team’s equipment manager didn’t put their sweat pants out for the first time on Friday, which also happened to be the first rainy day of rookie camp where temperatures didn’t pass single digits.

“And no one complained,” he said.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/Gerry_EdmSun


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