HAMILTON - A pair of Edmonton Eskimos are returning to where it all began.
Receiver Chris Bauman and defensive lineman Jermaine Reid will face the Hamilton Tiger-cats for the first time in their careers on Friday.
Both non-import players were drafted by Hamilton, where they spent the past four seasons before joining the Eskimos as free agents in the off-season.
“It’s definitely a new experience for me, I’ve never played against an ex-team,” said Bauman, who was taken first overall by the Tabbies in 2007. “I’m looking forward to it. I liked my time in Hamilton.
“It will be good to see some of the people there that I got to know over my four years.”
Sidelined by a recent back injury, Bauman returned to practice this week just in time for his professional homecoming
“It’s going to be different for sure,” Bauman said of occupying the visitors locker-room in Ivor Wynne Stadium for the first time. “I don’t really know what to think of it right now, I’m just going to try and focus on preparing for the game.
“But try not to let all those distractions bother me.”
But they might be tough to ignore when they’re staring their former fans in their black- and gold-painted faces.
“It’s really weird, you know. It’s been a while now since I’ve been in Ivor Wynne,” said Reid, who was drafted ninth overall by Hamilton in 2006. “So it’s going to be a little bit of a weird feeling seeing some of the old fans.
“See some of the teammates again, you know. They’re a little salty from the last one as they told me.”
The Eskimos won a Week 2 meeting at Commonwealth Stadium 28-10 and have a chance to sweep the Ticats in both regular-season meetings for the first time in three seasons.
“So they’re going to come firing out, but we’re coming off a loss too so we really want to get back on that winning streak,” said Reid, who knows of the Eskimos’ struggles in Hamilton with one win in their last eight trips — but he saw it from the other side of the fence. “It’s a tough place to play. The fans, they love their team there, win or lose. They’re aggressive, they’re almost right on top of you, on top of everything.
“So it’s just going in there, staying focused, drowning that crowd out a little bit. If you can take the crowd out, it takes a little bit of Hamilton’s heart out.”
Until and if that happens on Friday, that heart will likely be the one doing the attacking on home turf, where the Ticats are 4-1 this season compared to 1-4 on the road — sharing the best home record in the league with the Montreal Alouettes.
“I know what to expect going in there,” Reid said. “I know I may get a couple choice words from a few fans, but it’s part of the game.”
But some fans will be cheering him on, Friday.
“I’ve got some family coming to the game,” said Reid, who grew up in Pickering, Ont. and was ranked the eighth top prospect in the nation while earning first-team all-Greater Toronto honours in high school. “They’re anxious to see me play again, they haven’t seen me in quite a while.
“We’ve only made it out to the East (Division) once, with Montreal. It’s been about three months now I haven’t seen anybody out there.”