Jerome Messam is back with the Edmonton Eskimos.
The CFL’s top Canadian in 2011 returned to Edmonton’s practice field Thursday.
The 27-year-old Messam was released Saturday by the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and had a 10-day window to sign another contract south of the border.
But the Toronto native, who grew up in Brampton, Ont., opted to returned to Edmonton instead and is negotiating a contract extension to remain with the Eskimos.
Messam enjoyed a breakout 2011 campaign with Edmonton, rushing for 1,027 yards to be named the CFL’s outstanding Canadian.
Messam’s arrival creates a logjam at tailback for Edmonton, which already has Hugh Charles and newcomer Cory Boyd to go with versatile Canadian Calvin McCarty.
Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed said Messam will have to work his way back on to the roster.
“We have every intention of giving him the opportunity to work his way back into the fold, but right now we’re going to focus on Hugh Charles and Cory Boyd as our guys,” he said. “We have to make certain, first, that his conditioning is back.
“Although he’s been in their training camp, he really hasn’t had significant reps or work to get his cardio back into football shape. The secondary part is he hasn’t played football for almost a calendar year so there’s a lot of things we need to look at.”
Messam suffered a torn meniscus cartilage in his knee in last year’s West Division semifinal and said he had an additional surgery while in Miami.
“When I got there I was coming off the injury,” he said after assuming his spot in the Eskimos dressing room. “I was practising so quick and going to hard I had to have another surgery while I was down there and didn’t really get to do too much where they could evaluate me.”
Messam said his knee is fine now and he’s ready to resume his CFL career.
“I want to play Monday (in Calgary), I feel like I’m physically ready,” he said. “My body feels great, my knee feels good.
“It was a gruelling, long off-season there. I went through training like I never did before so I feel I’m in the best shape of my life. But as far as getting back into the swing of things, being comfortable with the offence, my protection responsibilities and all that stuff, if not this week it’ll definitely be next week.”