Edmonton Eskimos receiver Chris Getzlaf said Friday’s contest against the Saskatchewan Roughriders was just another game for him, but it’s hard to see how that is possible.
The Regina, Sask., product played eight years for his hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders before signing with the Eskimos this season.
Friday is the first time he’ll line up against his former team in a regular-season game.
“It’s obviously going to have a tiny bit different feel to it, but I’ve approached it just like any other game this entire week and this is just like any other game,” Getzlaf said following practice Wednesday. “It’s just another chance for this football club to win a game, so that’s all that counts.”
Getzlaf, 33, had a pair of 1,000-yard seasons in Saskatchewan and was one of the club’s most popular players prior to his departure. Last year, he caught 33 passes for 402 yards with four touchdowns for the Roughriders, but was not re-signed by the club.
“I had a long time to realize that I wasn’t going to be there and then I had the opportunity here, I came here for training camp and it’s just a great group of guys with a great coaching staff and I couldn’t be happier.” Getzlaf said. “I’m feeling real comfortable here, it’s a great group of guys, we get along well, we chat, and we laugh every day. The biggest thing is that we all put in the time we need in order to go out and execute on the field. I think we’ve done a pretty good job this week and I think we’re set for the game.”
Getzlaf exacted a small measure of revenge in a preseason contest against the Roughriders, catching a touchdown pass in a 25-11 victory.
Friday’s game, however, is one that actually counts, yet Getzlaf downplayed being motivated by wanting to show the Roughriders they were wrong in not re-signing him.
“I want to show someone every single week, that’s the idea,” he said. “You play this game to win and you play this game because you love it. I’m going to come out and I’m going to leave my heart on the field every time.”
In the Week 1 45-37 overtime loss to the Ottawa RedBlacks, Getzlaf was kept out of the end zone but did make two catches for 30 yards.
The veteran is fitting in well with the Eskimos, who already had a talented group of receivers.
“Chris has done exactly what we’ve asked him to do, he’s learned our offence, he’s smart, he’s a veteran guy, he has a good presence about him,” said Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly. “He’s great in the locker room, he’s great in the film room, he’s been able to teach our young guys. Most importantly, he’s been in the right spots when we’ve needed him to be there and when the plays have gone to him, he’s made plays and that’s what we expect from him for the rest of the year.”
Reilly expects Getzlaf to be fired up to play the Roughriders, even though he may be downplaying the match-up. Reilly knows something about suiting up against a former club.
“No question about it, absolutely, I still get fired up when we play B.C. and that was a long time ago that I played with them,” he said. “He’s a Regina boy, he’s been playing with them a long time and it’s always exciting to play against your old team, emotions always run high. But once that ball is kicked off, it’s a football game and you just focus on your job.”
As much as he would like to have a big night, the most important thing for Getzlaf would be to get the win against the Roughriders. That would be his ultimate revenge. Saskatchewan lost their first game of the season, 30-17, to the Toronto Argonauts last week.
“When you played somewhere as long as he did, there is always going to be motivation to play against that team,” said Eskimos head coach Jason Maas. “But Chris is a professional, bottom line. He’s going to be motivated to play every single week. Does it mean more? It could, especially the first time you play them. But I expect Chris to be motivated every week.”
(Derek Van Diest/Edmonton Journal)