Edmonton Eskimos fullback Mathieu Bertrand back from injury
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
|Mathieu Bertrand, centre, was back at Eskimos practice Wednesday at Commonwealth Stadium. (Perry Mah, QMI Agency)
There’s nothing like a fullback coming back to fill a hole in an injury-emptied Edmonton Eskimos depth chart.
Mathieu Bertrand will play in just his fifth game of the season Sunday against the Montreal Alouettes.
“I am going, I am on,” said an enthusiastic Bertrand. “I was just waiting for the green light from the doctor and I think I got it.”
The Laval product returned to practice two weeks ago after missing the past 12 games since tearing his groin in Week 4.
But he couldn’t have picked a more appropriate time to return, with two games left on the schedule and his Eskimos a win away from securing a playoff spot.
“It’s been tough just to like keep my head in it and stay in shape,” he said. “But at the same time, when you see your teammates working that hard, getting beat up and keep going and fighting, you just want to go and help them.”
The injury has been the worst of the nine-year CFL veteran’s career.
“I’ve had some small injuries in my life and missed one or two games, but I’ve never missed that long of a season,” said the 34-year-old native of Chambly, Quebec. “But I knew when it happened that it would take a long time and I knew right away with the MRI, they told me it was going to take between 12-16 weeks.
“So I knew I was not on the field for a long time.”
Though fullback isn’t the most visible position on the field, the Eskimos offence is looking forward to having the six-foot-three, 245-pound piece of the puzzle return.
“We got out of certain packages when Matty got hurt and we’re trying now to get back into those packages,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “With Matty back, we will be able to really reinstall that which we had success with with Matty.
“Offensively, special teams and the team as a whole, Matty will be a welcome addition back.”
While the defensive line has been the most high-profile unit when it comes to injuries this season, Bertrand’s loss was the worst on an individual level.
“We came into the season saying the one person who we couldn’t afford an injury to is Matty,” Reed said. “Last year, we were very fortunate to make it through the entire season without an injury (to him).
“This year, we weren’t that fortunate. Given his importance to this team, we will definitely make room for Mathieu Bertrand.”
While he was missed on the field, the same can’t be said out in the community.
Bertrand received the team’s 2012 David Boone Memorial community service award for his efforts throughout Edmonton over the off-season.
“I was glad, it’s an honour,” said Bertrand, who lives in Edmonton year-round. “I’ve been doing it for the last six years, but obviously, Patrick Kabongo was almost winning it every single season because he really liked to be in the community.”
IN AND OUT: MLB J.C. Sherritt (knee) took his second day off in a row, but is expected to return Thursday. RB Hugh Charles (knee) spent Wednesday morning in the weight-room instead of the practice field and is questionable for Sunday’s game. DE Marcus Howard (hamstring) was back practising but is questionable, as well.