Esks' Messam sets sights on milestone
By Gerry Moddejonge, QMI Agency
|Edmonton Eskimos Jerome Messam dodges Argos' Anthony Cannon during first half-action at the Rogers Centre in Toronto last Friday. (Ernest Doroszuk, QMI Agency)
EDMONTON - Jerome Messam is going to need two hands to count his future successes.
The Edmonton Eskimos running back earned his league-leading fifth Canadian Player of the Week honours following last Friday’s win in his hometown of Toronto.
The six-foot-three, 245-pound Graceland product carried the ball 19 times for 115 yards — his fourth time passing the century mark this season.
“This is my fifth one, it feels good and I just hope to get a few more,” Messam said of the weekly honour. “I think my game stepped up a little bit. It just came with time, sticking with the plan and trusting the offensive line and things have worked out.”
He now needs just 36 yards to reach the 1,000-yard plateau and will become the first Canadian running back to do so since Lions tailback Sean Millington did so in 2000.
Chances are Messam will likely do so this week, fittingly enough, in B.C. against his former team.
Of course, last time he was there he was forced to leave early after an altercation in the end zone where he was thrown out after throwing a punch.
If anything, the Lions only managed to wake a sleeping giant, who has been named top Canadian of the week twice since.
“I don’t know if it has anything to do with that incident, it’s just trying to close out the season strong and trying to get to this 1,000 yards,” said Messam. “It’s been really motivating me.
“It’s going to be a big accomplishment for me in my career and it just says something about being a Canadian athlete in this league and I’m very happy to, first of all, get the opportunity and hopefully break the mark.”
With Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish’s name the only other one appearing more than once on the list of weekly winners — albeit just twice — Messam can’t be blamed if his thoughts shift from the weekly awards to being named top Canadian of the year.
“I’ve been thinking about it, but it’s not my focus,” Messam said. “It’s about the team, we want to win this Grey Cup.”
It’s an outlook his head coach has helped foster.
“Jerome is getting the accolades, but you have to look at the way our offensive line has been performing,” said Kavis Reed. “And the way that our offence has really allowed Jerome’s talent to take place.
“It is vitally important that those guys get a lot of the credit. We made a lot of changes to the O-line since the Labour Day games to try and find our run game. Jerome has benefitted from that, he’s five time Canadian player of the week but I think six other guys have a part in that as well.”
Never mind just a part, Messam gives it all up.
“We’ve always had faith in those guys,” Messam said. “They took a lot of flack early in the season but I’m happy with the way they’ve played and they deserve all the accolades for our success.
“They’ve been through a lot of changes and stuff, but they just persevered and guys have gone down and the next guy up was ready to play.”