Argos' Eppele knows better

Toronto Argos 2nd overall pick in the 2010 Entry Draft Joe Eppele meets his fans at the Argos Draft...

Toronto Argos 2nd overall pick in the 2010 Entry Draft Joe Eppele meets his fans at the Argos Draft Party at Jack Astors May 2nd, 2010. (DAVE ABEL/QMI AGENCY)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:49 PM ET

Joe Eppele figured he could experience the supposedly good things that come with being a high draft pick.

But reality became Eppele's close pal in 2010 after he was selected second overall by the Argonauts in the Canadian draft. Eppele dressed in just seven games in the regular season, making a single start.

"With all the hype (that comes with being such a lofty pick), I think I got ahead of myself there a little bit, expecting more than I should have," Eppele said.

"Last year was a humbling experience, but it was what I needed as an athlete. I have come along in this camp probably more than I did the entire season last year."

How much has the offensive lineman grown as a player?

"If you talked about a guy who would win most improved player from the start of camp to right now, it would be Joe Eppele," Argos head coach and general manager Jim Barker said. "He has been outstanding, and for him it's a step to not only being a bona fide backup, but he is competing to be a starter."

Eppele can play the guard or tackle positions, and will line up at right tackle against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday in a pre-season game. It's a solid opportunity for Eppele, who will try to take advantage of the fact that Chris Van Zeyl is nursing a sprained ankle. Import rookie Edawn Coughman also will get a look.

Eppele managed to keep a positive attitude through the trials of his rookie season, and has benefited from off-hours work with veteran tackle Rob Murphy. The latter jokingly refers to Eppele and Van Zeyl as the Meathead Twins, but Murphy has put in extra hours with Eppele, poring over practice film with the 23-year-old Vancouver native.

"Sometimes I will come out of my office at 9, 9:30, and he is in there watching tape with Murphy," Barker said. "He has worked hard to improve himself as a pro and understand that when he came in, he had a long way to go."

Eppele trained in the winter with Murphy, Van Zeyl and Taylor Robertson. Soaking up the advice from the vets has been invaluable.

"I was really green last year," Eppele said. "My knowledge of the game has grown a lot. I'm really appreciative of the guys being willing to help me as much as they have.

"I just want to be part of the Argos, (and against Hamilton) show what kind of team we are going to be this season."

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca

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