EDMONTON - They were flown in last month and landed amid high expectations.
But the Edmonton Eskimos two new import tackles have managed to stick on an offensive line that looked more like a revolving door prior to their arrival.
With Devin Tyler on the left side and Chris Patrick on the right, the two former NFLers bookend an offensive line that has played together now since Week 8.
Of course, making their CFL debut with a 36-1 loss to the B.C. Lions wasn’t the best way to start things off. But they have come a long way over the past four games as they set to face the Lions again on Friday.
“They continue to grow and those guys have definitely lived up to our expectations,” said head coach Kavis Reed. “I’m very proud of the fact that those guys have come in and they’ve worked extremely hard to acclimate themselves to the CFL game.
“They’ve gotten adjusted to a yard off the ball and I feel they’re playing it very well. And I anticipate they’re only going to get better.”
Especially considering where they started.
“When I first came up here, I thought it was four downs,” laughed Patrick, who hails from Ithaca, Mich., and grew up playing four-down football. “I didn’t know anything, it was just that quick.”
Almost before he was shown where the bathrooms were in Commonwealth Stadium, he was suiting up to start against the Lions.
“It took me a week or two to get my football legs back underneath me and get used to the technique again,” said Patrick, who spent four years in the NFL, most recently on the San Francisco 49ers injury reserve. “Scheme-wise, I never played in a spread offence before,” Patrick said. “I played in a west-coast offence in the NFL, but I’m taking my transition well.”
Tyler, on the other hand, had a bit more of a head start in the CFL by attending Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp, but was released at the end of the preseason.
“It’s not what I thought it was, I underestimated it a little coming over,” said said Tyler, who grew up in Washington, D.C. “Once I’m here, I realized that the talent is just as good as a lot of people in the NFL.
“It was new to me, but at the same time it was just like the NFL.”
Making adjustments is nothing new to Tyler, who didn’t start playing football until his senior year in high school.
“I made the senior team in high school and got a full-ride scholarship to Temple University in Philadelphia,” said the six-foot-seven, 300-pounder.
But he wasn’t always that big.
“I was always really tall so I thought I was going to be an NBA star,” said Tyler, who wasn’t getting any looks and made the switch to the gridiron. “I was always aggressive, so they tried me at D-end and got the scholarship to Temple.
“I was about 200 pounds when I got there and Al Golden, he’s the head coach at Miami now, he switched me over to play offensive tackle and he told me if I trust him, I’d be a professional athlete one day.”
IN AND OUT: After practising on Monday, SB Fred Stamps hung out on the sidelines but is expected to play. LB Greg Peach (knee) sat out for the second day in a row and is questionable for Friday.