Esks' Messam to face old team

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:09 PM ET

Jerome Messam isn't running away from his problems.

In fact, the Edmonton Eskimos running back is focusing on running and less on causing problems since getting traded away as a suspended player with the B.C. Lions in training camp.

After catapulting to second place in the league in rushing thanks to a 104-yard, two-touchdown performance in Week 2, the six-foot-three, 245-pound Toronto native is facing his former team Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium (5 p.m., TSN).

"It means a little bit more, but it's just another game," Messam said. "I prepare like any other week, I try to go out there and control the things I can control."

While the Lions saw him as out of control, Eskimos general manager Eric Tillman was willing to give him another shot.

After allegations of getting in a fight with a teammate last year and getting caught breaking team curfew rules by having company in his dorm room during training camp, Messam faced suspension and was dealt off.

"When I got here, we sat down to lunch and we had a great conversation. He just spoke to me basically about second chances," Messam said. "He's had similar, I would say, run-ins with the media that didn't portray him in a positive light and he's had to bounce back from it.

"He was basically supportive."

Messam landed in Edmonton where he found his footing in the Eskimos rushing attack, leading the team with 141 ground yards and two touchdowns in two games.

"I feel like maybe I just wasn't a good fit. There were maybe some personal issues going on with me feeling that coming from college -- where you get a lot of opportunities to get the ball a lot - coming to a role where you have to take more of a back seat, it kind of takes a toll on you mind and your whole outlook on the situation," said Messam, who didn't have anything negative to say about the Lions. "Nothing as far as organization-wise or me being unhappy there, why it didn't work. It just didn't work."

Although he has been integrated into the Eskimos' running-back-by-committee approach, Messam has been making the most of his opportunities behind starter Calvin McCarty.

"I just want to be successful. I'm getting the opportunity now to run the ball and I want to just make the best of it," said Messam, who was named the CFL's Canadian Player of the Week last week. "I definitely feel like I'm getting more opportunities."

"It feels good to have a clean slate, get a fresh opportunity," Messam said. "Basically, the guys didn't judge me or have any kind of perception of me coming in.

"I feel like I've earned the respect of the guys on my team and that's what I wanted to do when I got here."

Messam's not one to look in his rearview mirror too much, unless it's to glance at opposing defenders in pursuit.

"Sometimes I sit back and look at the situation, but you can't really dwell on the past," said Messam, who will do his part Saturday in putting B.C. behind him, especially in the standings. "They're 0-2, we're 2-0. It feels good and I'm happy to be here.

"I just knew we'd be playing them four times so I was excited."

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