Receiver Chambers chosen as Eskimos’ top rookie
Sherritt takes Edmonton’s nominations as most outstanding player, top defensive player
Edmonton Eskimo linebacker J.C. Sherritt practices on a snow-covered field at Commonwealth Stadium on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012.
EDMONTON There were struggles along the way for Shamawd Chambers, who has emerged from his first CFL season with a nod as the Edmonton Eskimos’ top rookie.
He joins linebacker J.C. Sherritt, Edmonton’s most outstanding player and top defensive player, Ted Laurent (outstanding Canadian), Orrin Thompson (offensive lineman), and Grant Shaw (special teams player) as team award winners.
The West Division winners will be announced on Wednesday.
“It’s been a roller-coaster,” said Chambers, the Eskimos’ first-round draft pick, sixth overall, this year. “At times it was what I expected; at times it wasn’t. That’s pro football. That’s life.
“If I could go back in time, I would have done a couple of things differently but I’m very happy Coach Kavis (Reed) gave me the chance to go out there and contribute. He knows he can trust me on the field from now on. I’m just excited for the future.”
The game plan for the Wilfred Laurier product was to keep him on the sidelines, then ease him into the lineup. By Week 5, the Eskimos had run into injury trouble and the learning curve was fast-tracked for the six-foot-three receiver.
He’ll go into Friday’s game with 35 catches for 376 yards with two touchdowns.
“I would have grown up faster. Early on, I was really naive about things,” he said after Wednesday’s practice. “I didn’t understand the league as much as I do now. I didn’t understand my body like I do now and how I need to be a consummate pro.
“I knew I wasn’t going to step in and be a contributor right away. I knew I was going to have to work for it. I did know that eventually there was going to be a time I had to contribute ... that came way before anyone thought it was going to come.
“There’s no better way to do it because it forces you into a situation where you have to grow up. And even when I did step in, they protected me, so I didn’t kill my confidence and there were times I was down on myself, but the veteran players, the receivers, helped me through that.”
Reed said it’s not uncommon for players to struggle with the adjustment of going from playing the big man on campus to being just another player in pro. But the Eskimos followed the same plan with Nate Coehoorn in his first season.
Chambers will be up against the B.C. Lions’ Jabar Westerman, Calgary Stampeders’ Chris Randle and Xavier Fulton of the Saskatchewan Roughriders for the division’s rookie award.
“He stuck with it, did the things we asked him ... and now he’s reaping the benefits of it. You expect a competitor to be impatient when it comes to his craft, but he understood what we laid out for him,” said Reed.
Sherritt, the league’s leading tackler (119), has the best chance of getting through to the league ballot. The second-year linebacker broke Willie Pless’s team record of 117 tackles set in 1998.
“He’s a football player,” said Reed. “It’s not just the statistics, it’s the character he displays, it’s the way he approaches the game, the respect he has for the game.”
Howard returns, Charles remains out
Running back Hugh Charles has been officially ruled out for Friday’s game. He was injured two weeks ago and has not returned to the lineup since suffering a knee injury.
Thompson is also going to be on the sidelines, and defensive back Rod Williams is questionable.
On the incoming list, defensive lineman Marcus Howard, who has been out for 11 games with a hamstring injury, will be back looking to create havoc in the trenches.
“Hopefully, I can help these guys win a ball game because I know with the D-line we have, and the linebackers we have, we can go far in the playoffs,” Howard said. “I have a lot of pent-up energy. This is like Week 4, Week 5 for me, except that it’s cold outside.”
The Stampeders are expected to split the game between quarterbacks Kevin Glenn and Drew Tate. Tate hasn’t started since July 7, when he dislocated his left shoulder.
“It doesn’t matter to me who is in,” said Howard. “Whoever it is, I’m coming after him.”
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