Eskimos' Shaw relies on versatility

Grant Shaw, shown here speaking to ex-Eskimos kicker Sean Fleming on the first day of training...

Grant Shaw, shown here speaking to ex-Eskimos kicker Sean Fleming on the first day of training camp, has been versatile enough to maintain a spot in the Esks' lineup despite seeing his kicking duties curtailed. (QMI AGENCY)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:53 AM ET

EDMONTON - He may forever be known as the ‘other guy’ in the Ricky Ray trade, but Grant Shaw is shaping up to be a piece of the Edmonton Eskimos puzzle this season.

Make that several pieces.

With the Eskimos testing out a shiny new import kicker this week, after bringing three Canadians into training camp, Shaw may not end up with the kicking duties but he’s not about to get booted off the team.

That’s because the Edmonton Huskies product has more than one trick up his sleeve. He led the CFL by averaging 62.2 yards per kickoff last season, which pretty much solidifies him as the first one to touch the ball Saturday when the season kicks off against his former Toronto Argonauts.

“I don’t think I was a huge factor in the whole deal, I was kind of small print,” said Shaw. “But I was part of the deal, which is an honour. I mean, Ricky Ray is a Hall of Fame player.

“For me, it was just an opportunity to get back home.”

Before he was the CFL’s reigning kickoff king, Shaw made a name for himself as a standout defensive back with the University of Saskatchewan.

“Grant Shaw was an outstanding defensive back in the CIS and was highly rated by many (CFL) teams,” Eskimos general manager Eric Tillman said of the 11th overall draft selection in 2010. “You’re talking about a kid who’s six-three, around 220 (pounds) and runs well.

“He was a starting cornerback for a darned good program. So Grant Shaw is far more than the old phrase: just a kicker. He’s a tremendous athlete and we feel that he can help us in many ways.”

Which includes, besides kickoffs, backing up the non-import safety position and getting in on coverage teams.

“I played on the defensive side of the ball,” said Shaw, a second-team All Canadian. “I went to the CFL combine as a corner. So they told me from Day 1 to be ready to do everything.

“It helps me, being versatile. It gives me more opportunities to play.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

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