HAMILTON -- Closing in on the end of his first CFL training camp, Jesse Lumsden has come to a clear-cut conclusion.
"Training camp is training camp, in a lot of way it sucks," Lumsden said after the team's dinner-hour practice session yesterday at McMaster University. "This is not very different from what it was down south. It sucks for everybody."
Things are definitely different for Lumsden, however.
He enjoyed an off-season with family and friends, bought a house in Hamilton and perhaps most significant for the Burlington native, has been at training camp from the start.
To much fanfare, of course, the soon to be 25-year-old spent most of the past two summers taking a shot at the NFL, first with Seattle then Washington.
Each time, he returned to the Ticats in mid-season and worked hard to fit in.
"It is good I am here spending training camp with the team as opposed to coming back halfway through the season," said Lumsden, sporting a brush-cut look to help deal with the summer heat. "This is when you experience the hardships and the tough times and really bond with your teammates."
As he has been since he graduated from Mac, Lumsden has been a live-in-the-moment, no-regrets guy.
"As one coach put it, 'It's a what have you done for me lately business.' " the 'Cats' first-round pick in 2005 said. "That's why being here now is important. I'm going to show these guys what I can do."
He'll get his first true chance on Friday night at Ivor Wynne Stadium in the final pre-season game against Winnipeg. A bout of food poisoning last week caused Lumsden to lose 15 pounds and a chance to play in the team's first contest.
So far, new Tabbies head coach Charlie Taafe has been impressed with Lumsden's versatility.
"I knew that he could do a lot of things, but I didn't know how good his hands were," Taafe said.
Forget the NFL hype and his reluctant poster-boy image, that's what Lumsden wants the most. And through the grind of training camp, he has been out to prove it.
"Don't let that pretty boy face fool you," Ticats quarterback candidate Timmy Chang said. "He brings power and speed and he will run you over."