Visa nightmare is over

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:01 PM ET

Jon Hameister-Ries is hoping adversity is behind him at Arizona Cardinal training camp.

The Edmonton native reported late for camp this week because he didn't have a working visa.

"It was terrible," said the hulking offensive lineman on the visa problems.

"I need to be here (on the field with the Cardinals) to make the team. Being in Phoenix in a hotel was frustrating."

After being a free-agent pick up by the NFL club this spring, Hameister-Ries is trying out at left guard.

Mark Maren - the agent for the former Strathcona high school product - doesn't believe his client hurt his chances of making the club because he missed the first two days of camp.

FINALLY REPORTED

Hameister-Ries officially reported to Flagstaff, Ariz., on Tuesday night.

"All the coaches knew that it was just a small little hiccup," said Maren. "Had he gone on and missed another week or so, then, yeah (it would have hurt his chances)."

With one guard already gone from camp, Hameister-Ries is competing against two other linemen at his position.

The first exhibition game is next Saturday against Oakland. But according to Maren, a realistic goal is for him to stick on the practice roster.

"If he makes the 56 (-man roster) then great, but all of us would be happy if he makes the practice roster spot," continued Maren. "I think he has just as good a shot as anybody else there of making it."

The six-foot-six, 308-pound guard would make $4,500 US a week on the Cardinals developmental/practice roster.

But at the moment, the 23-year-old is just getting used to the difference between the NFL and the University of Tulsa, his alma mater.

LEARNING CURVE

"It's fast and intense," said Hameister-Ries on the pro camp. "I'm working my way into it. It's a big difference from college."

The fact he's even at an NFL camp is nothing short of stunning. Hameister-Ries's well-documented story started in Grade 12, his first year playing football after being pestered for two years to try out.

Given a big scholarship to Tulsa off that one season at Strathcona high school, he didn't transfer to the offensive line until 2005-06. But he made such an impression there that the B.C. Lions drafted him last year.

If he doesn't crack the Cardinals, the Lions will be knocking on his door within moments.

"I have talked to the Lions and every time I talk to them in regards to other players, it is one of the first questions: 'How is Jon doing down there?' " said Maren. "He'll have a home to come back to."

But if Hameister-Ries is able to stick with Arizona he'll be one of just a few Canucks south of the border. The lack of Canadians in the NFL circuit was highlighted during the Edmontonian's problems of getting a visa.

"In the NFL, there are very few Canadian citizens and very few non-Americans (playing), so the process was a little bit longer," said Maren.

"With the NHL it is a little bit easier because there is already stuff put into place."


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