EDMONTON - He spent the last two years on the best team in the CFL.
But that doesn’t mean Dylan Steenbergen couldn’t find something better for himself.
On Tuesday, the former Montreal Alouettes offensive lineman practised with the Edmonton Eskimos for the first time since being traded to his home province over the bye week.
The Alouette’s first-round draft pick in 2009 (seventh overall), Steenbergen may have been part of a two-time defending champion organization, but joining an established club also had its drawbacks.
The Lethbridge native and Calgary Dinos product hasn’t had much opportunity to get onto the field so far in his career.
“We don’t have any information in terms of him physically playing a football game in the CFL beyond the preseason,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “So what we’re counting on is that he’s the guy that we saw in evaluation camps, he’s the guy that we saw in the preseason game: a very athletic young man that is very physical.
“He can pull on misdirection plays and that’s something that we feel very strongly could help us at this time.”
Especially on an Eskimos offence that has struggled with protection and getting the running game off the ground in their last three outings. Not to mention the loss of veteran centre Aaron Fiacconi to a torn rotator cuff.
But the Eskimos will look at Steenbergen at guard.
Regardless, the six-foot-five, 285-pounder will take all the looks he can get.
“It was a great organization, great experience. They gave me all the necessary experience I needed but they had a lot of depth,” Steenbergen said of his former squad. “It just didn’t work out, I guess. I just didn’t really get that opportunity.”
He won’t run into the same wall in Edmonton.
“I had my family behind me. Everybody was behind me at this point to come home,” Steenbergen said. “And possibly having that opportunity to play, there was no way I was going to turn it down.
“This is a great opportunity to come in and learn, to get to play on a daily basis.”
His arrival in Edmonton on the eve of the CFL’s annual Battle of Alberta was just a coincidence for Steenbergen, who grew up with an allegiance to the south.
“It’s ultimately a dream come true to be able to come back and play for a team in my home province,” said Steenbergen, who is no stranger to the history of the Eskimos. “I’ve talked to a few friends and family who are texting me wondering what’s going on.
“Of course, they’re all asking about tickets and whether I’m going to be there, that sort of thing.”
IN AND OUT: CB Jykine Bradley, WR Ryan Grice-Mullen and WR Prechae Rodriguez joined OL Junius Coston (knee), DE Joe Sykes (ankle) and CB Rod Williams (hamstring) on the sidelines Tuesday, while DE Greg Peach got back on the field for the first time since injuring his knee in a Week 4 win over the Calgary Stampeders.
The Eskimos top defensive lineman was only on the scout defence and didn’t run with the first-team, however, and is questionable for the Labour Day Classic.