Team first for Esks' Kabongo

Patrick Kabongo, right, and Greg Wojt warm up at Eskimos practice on Wednesday. (Codie...

Patrick Kabongo, right, and Greg Wojt warm up at Eskimos practice on Wednesday. (Codie McLachlan/QMI Agency)

Gerry Moddejonge, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:22 PM ET

EDMONTON - This is no time for Patrick Kabongo to start worrying about not starting.

The Edmonton Eskimos offensive guard was singled out as the team’s top offensive lineman since coming off the bench to start the last three games in place of the injured Greg Wojt.

Despite helping the Eskimos to a three-game win streak in that time, Kabongo is headed back to the sidelines.

“If Greg is able to practise, he will probably reassume his position. That will probably make Patrick the odd-man out in terms of starting, but we plan to give Patrick some playing time,” said head coach Kavis Reed. “We’ll see how it goes during the course of the game whether or not he’s worked in.”

Kabongo’s not about to get worked up.

“It’s all about the team now at this point of the season,” said the eighth-year Eskimos veteran. “It’s all about ‘us’ now, not about one person.

“Winning is everything. Winning this weekend would just facilitate so many things.”

Such as securing first place in the West Division for the first time since 2003 and earning Commonwealth Stadium its first playoff game since ‘04.

“Yeah, so it would feel good to finish first. Like we took another step forward,” said Kabongo.

Much like he’s done, himself, over a season that saw him lose his starting role at the midway point.

He was down, but not out.

“It’s a testament to his character and his professionalism,” said head coach Kavis Reed. “Most guys with his stature and standing in this community and this football team may have seen it as a sign of disrespect and fold the tent.

“But no, Patrick put on his hard hat and went to work and he’s refined his skills. He’s earning our respect and our trust.”

And making it difficult to put together this week’s depth chart in the process.

“There is a decision that will have to be made because Greg is not going to lose his starting job because of injury,” Reed said. “If he is able to do (play), he will assume his position and we will have to decide who is our other offensive guard.”

Meaning Kabongo could resume his role at left guard, which is currently filled by Brian Ramsay.

But a logjam of potential starters isn’t necessarily a bad problem to have.

“It’s nice to be in this situation with veteran guys who have already played in this position before,” said Reed. “All of them are battle-tested, they have all had starts and I like the fact that we’re making a decision and it’s not performance-based.”

For Kabongo, it’s been about getting back to basics.

“It’s just his attention to detail,” Reed said. “His technique has been refined, he’s really paid attention to his hand placement, he’s paid a lot of attention to his footwork, which had been a problem for him in games earlier in the season.

“He’s been very professional about the way he approached it and that has shown in his play.”

And will continue to, whenever the sixth offensive lineman is called upon again.

“I’ve been just working hard, focusing on what I need to do,” Kabongo said. “The coaches have been doing a good job of preparing us.”

And ‘us’ have been benefitting.

IN AND OUT: LB J.C. Sherritt (ankle) didn’t practise again Wednesday and remains doubtful for Saturday’s game.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

@SunModdejonge


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