Former football Dino soars

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:10 AM ET

Dan Federkeil's assignment -- should he be chosen to accept it -- would be to help Peyton Manning look good. However, in what some might consider his first real acid test alongside the two-time NFL MVP, the U of C grad admittedly failed.

"We played ping-pong doubles together," said the 22-year-old Medicine Hat native yesterday from the Indianapolis Colts' training camp facility in Terre Haute, Ind.

"We didn't win."

Asked who was the weak link, the 6-ft. 7-in., 290-lb. rookie refused to hang his $98-million teammate out to dry.

"We were both missing shots," said Federkeil, exhibiting the type of cover-up skills offensive linemen are all about.

"I really just picked it up out here because that's what we do between practices. Other than that, there's not too much interaction between the vets and new guys until you make the team."

It would hardly be surprising to anyone who knows Federkeil to learn the next time he wields a rubber-covered paddle he makes like an Olympic champion.

Drafted fifth overall by the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL draft as one of the country's top defensive ends, Federkeil was signed by the Colts in May with an eye on converting him to a hog on Manning's offensive line.

Impressing coaches throughout rookie camp with his foot speed and athleticism, the Dinos' reigning athlete of the year was not only invited to main camp but played the entire fourth quarter of last week's pre-season tilt in St. Louis.

"You're kind of taken back a bit while you're on the field with 60,000 fans screaming in a closed-roof stadium," said the first Dino to play an NFL exhibition game since Don Blair suited up for the 1996 Chicago Bears.

"But once I was on the field, I just tuned it out because I had a job to do. I haven't had any time to say, 'Holy crap, this is the NFL!' I try not to get too excited -- if I do, I'm pretty sure that's when I'll mess up."

According to Federkeil's former defensive coach, his performance against the Rams -- as in St. Louis, not Regina -- was stellar.

"His man never beat him -- he dominated his guy, which is something for a first-year guy who has only played the position a couple months," said Dinos defensive co-ordinator John Stevens, who wouldn't be surprised if Federkeil went on to become the first Dino to play a regular-season NFL game or even win the Colts' ping-pong title.

"He's just so versatile.

"He could have played varsity basketball, too. It's no surprise he's making the transition."

Humbly suggesting "there were a couple things I could've done better," Federkeil said his limited experience as an o-lineman on short-yardage packages in Calgary has helped him adjust to his new position.

Federkeil's performance may get him another solid chunk of playing time Sunday night when the Colts host the Seahawks, the Super Bowl runners-up, on NBC.

Currently ranked third on the depth chart amongst right tackles, Federkeil has a legit shot at sticking with the club's developmental squad.

From there, it's still a long road to playing alongside Manning sans paddles.

It's an exciting journey he's savouring.

"After our charter flight, we had 10 police cars escorting four buses to the hotel," he said, chuckling.

"They serve full meals on the plane and a goodie bag when you board."

Easy transitions, indeed.


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