Esks Jyles: Been there, done that

Edmonton Eskimos  quarterback Steven Jyles under pressure from  B.C. Lions  Rajon Henley, second...

Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Steven Jyles under pressure from B.C. Lions Rajon Henley, second right, and James Yurichuk, right, during pre-season CFL action at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta on Thursday, June 21, 2012. (QMI Agency/AMBER BRACKEN)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:21 AM ET

EDMONTON - Steven Jyles has been in this same sort of situation before.

Ricky Ray isn’t the first hometown-hero-turned Toronto Argonaut Jyles finds himself replacing amid a sea of hype.

Four years ago, reigning Grey Cup champion and CFL most outstanding player Kerry Joseph was making his return to Regina to take on his former Saskatchewan Roughriders teammates for the first time.

While Darian Durant started that game on July 27, 2008, it was Jyles who came in to lead the Roughriders to a 28-22 victory over Joseph’s new team, completing 14 of 18 attempts for 201 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Even though Joseph threw 21 of 42 for 259 yards and a touchdown, it was Jyles who came away with the victory.

Which is exactly what he has on his mind Saturday in Ricky Ray’s first time back in Commonwealth Stadium since being dealt to the Argos on Dec. 12.

“That game, I didn’t start but I came in and we were able to get a victory,” Jyles said. “But I didn’t look at that as a guy returning to Saskatchewan, I just view it as we were playing against the Toronto Argonauts.

“I was always a fan of Kerry when he played in Saskatchewan. I studied him and I respect him, so when he came back I was excited to see him. But it just so happened I ended up playing in that ball game and got a win.”

There are, of course, a couple of not-so-subtle differences this year that make this homecoming-buster a little more intriguing for Jyles.

Not only is Joseph a current teammate backing him up at No. 2, but Jyles started the last half of 2011 with the Argos, finishing with a 4-4 record — a vast improvement over a 2-7 first half.

And, obviously, this time around it’s Ricky Ray, whom Jyles mentored under for two years as he began his CFL career in Edmonton in 2006.

“Any time you have a guy who led your team to two Grey Cups and he was effective throughout his career, it’s huge for him to come back,” Jyles said. “The fans are going to show him a lot of love. They’ll appreciate him.

“That’s huge for the community, that’s huge for the fans and the organization.”

As was the December trade announcement, which shocked everyone, including Jyles.

“It did. I wasn’t expecting it,” said Jyles, who will turn 30 this season. “I was shocked when I found out but it’s a part of the game. You can’t get comfortable anywhere.

“You have to be willing to accept (a trade).”

For the record, that wasn’t a first for Jyles, either.

“I thought I was going to return in Winnipeg,” said Jyles, who played 16 games for the Blue Bombers in 2010 before ending up in Toronto and eventually taking over for Cleo Lemon. “That caught me by surprise, so it’s something I don’t want to say you get used to, but you learn to accept it and move forward.”

In life and, if it all turns out right for him Saturday, the standings as well.

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gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

 


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