Mitchell makes it to Esks camp

Scott Mitchell runs drills Friday at Eskimos rookie camp at Jasper Place high school in Edmonton,...

Scott Mitchell runs drills Friday at Eskimos rookie camp at Jasper Place high school in Edmonton, Alta.. (CODIE McLACHLAN/QMI Agency)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:54 PM ET

EDMONTON - It's better late than never for Scott Mitchell.

The Eskimos first draft pick this year was cleared to participate in his first practice to close out rookie camp on Friday.

After tweaking his left knee in a training session, Mitchell was kept off the practice field for the first two days of rookie camp.

"It feels great to be out here with the boys and all the coaches, just getting after it, trying to get ready for the main camp when the veterans get here," said the six-foot-four, 295-pounder out of Rice.

As far as first impressions go, he comes as advertised.

"Scott Mitchell is what we saw on film: a young man that is full of potential," head coach Kavis Reed said of the second-overall selection in the 2011 draft. "Hopefully we can extract that potential and make him a mainstay on the offensive line for a very long time here."

Which is why they didn't take any chances with Mitchell's knee.

"Right now, we know that he's a part of the plan," Reed said. "I don't think it's prudent for us to try to push it, we're going to be very conscientious of how we work him in practice until he's 100%."

While Mitchell understands the caution, he doesn't have to like it.

"I was kind of frustrated with it because I think I'm ready to go," he said. "I've been training for this for a long time and I wanted to be out here. It was a pain not being out here, but I have to go along with the coaches and the training staff.

"Luckily I was able to come out here (Friday) and get one under my belt."

With main camp kicking off on Sunday, that doesn't leave much time for familiarization.

"I'm used to not having much time," Mitchell said. "Just like when I went down to Rice, I came the day before two-a-days and they threw me in there. So I'm kind of in the same predicament that I was back then.

"Sunday, it will be full-go with the vets and I'll be ready to rock with those boys."

While he played mostly tackle at Rice, Mitchell was snapping the ball at the vacant centre position on Friday.

"The good thing is that he has the ability to play throughout the offensive line," said Reed. "It may be an adjustment on the right side because he's been on the left side, but we're going to work him at guard and see where it goes from there."

The right guard spot has been held by Patrick Kabongo since moving in from right tackle in 2008.

While being the team's first draft pick carries some prestige, Mitchell sees himself on the same playing field with the rest of the recruits looking for a job.

"It kind of means something, but to me it's all out the window. I know what kind of player I am," Mitchell said. "The coaches, they invested a lot in me and they have high expectations of me. I have to deliver that, but me as a player, I'm confident in my abilities.

"I believe that I can do that for this team and have a productive season this year."

ROOKIE RAY: Incumbent quarterback Ricky Ray came out to rookie camp Friday to take some reps with the three young pivots in advance of Sunday's main camp. While the Eskimos are still expecting to bring a fifth quarterback, Reed is keeping a tight lip on whom it will be.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

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