EDMONTON - It’s been 10 full months and Arkee Whitlock is right back where he started.
The Edmonton Eskimos starting running back ended his season early last year after injuring his foot in the Labour Day Classic in Calgary against the Stampeders.
So it’s fitting the third-year CFLer will play in his first game of the 2011 season with a return to McMahon Stadium on Saturday.
“Definitely a long 10 months for me. My season ended on Calgary’s field last year so I’m definitely anxious about getting back out there and getting a feel for things,” said Whitlock, who has spent the 2011 season so far recovering from a torn hamstring sustained in training camp. “I think I’ve been patient and also impatient waiting, but it’s just the nature of the game, you kind of want to be out there and be a part of things,” he said. “I’ve just been very anxious to get a crack at it and this week I get a chance. I’m ready to take advantage of the opportunity.”
But things have changed since he last suited up for a game, especially in the Eskimos running game, which has ditched the feature-back look for a rush-by-committee approach.
“It makes you feel a little worse if the running game’s not going and you’re out,” Whitlock said. “I’m very proud of what the guys did so far at the running back position.”
Then again, it’s hard to argue with an Eskimos team that leads the league with 422 rushing yards.
“Definitely, for my first game out, they’ve set the bar pretty high,” Whitlock said.
Of course, considering their opponent won all three of their meetings last season, he wouldn’t have it any other way this week.
“This is definitely the biggest test for us. This is that hump, we’ve been trying to get over that hump and for the past few years. Since I’ve been here, we’ve struggled down there,” said Whitlock, who has yet to win in Calgary since joining the Eskimos in 2009. “This definitely a challenge for our team, just to kind of see where we’re at. We’re 3-0, but nothing’s accomplished yet.”