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Eskimos could have key draft pick in training camp

Edmonton Eskimos' general manager Eric Tillman (L) celebrates with the Eskimos mascot 'Punter' in the dying seconds of their CFL game against the Calgary Stampeders in Edmonton November 13, 2011. REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber

Dan Riedlhuber/Reuters

When the Edmonton Eskimos selected offensive lineman Austin Pasztor and receiver Shamawd Chambers in the recent Canadian Football League draft, it was with an eye to the future.

Now it appears as if one of those Canadian-born players could be at the Eskimos' main training camp, which opens in less than two weeks.

Chambers, a standout with the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, attended a mini-camp camp with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles and was told the team had no further interest. As a result, Chambers and his agent have been in negotiations with the Eskimos, who used the sixth pick overall in the CFL draft to claim the 6-foot-3, 219-pound receiver.

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Edmonton used the fourth pick overall to select the 6-foot-7, 305-pound Pazstor, who has already with the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent.

"(Chambers) wasn't offered a contract to go to the (Eagles') big camp," Eskimos' general manager Eric Tillman said in a Thursday conference call. "We've been in contact with his agent this morning and it certainly looks positive he'll be in the CFL at the start of training camp."

Tillman said the Eskimos were able to "draft two futures" given how the team had "over 30 Canadians under contract."

Chambers size, speed and non-import status is something the Eskimos could use. They've made a number of personnel changes on offence, but none bigger than trading quarterback Ricky Ray to the Toronto Argonauts.

While discussing the state of the Eskimos, Tillman spent much of his time detailing the Ray trade, explaining how the team needed salary cap flexibility and how he had made previous deals involving established quarterbacks Kent Austin and Kerry Joseph.

"Ultimately, the answer speaks for itself," Tillman said of a 2012 season that rests in the hands of quarterbacks Steven Jyles and Joseph. "The answer will present itself in October and November."

The Eskimos also announced they had signed another import running back, Cory Ross. He starred at Nebraska before playing with the Baltimore Ravens. Edmonton is looking to replace Jerome Messam, who jumped to the Miami Dolphins.

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About the Author
Sports writer

Allan Maki is a national news reporter and sports writer based in Calgary. He joined the Globe and Mail in 1997 with an extensive sports background having covered Stanley Cup finals, the Grey Cup, Summer and Winter Olympics, the 1980 Miracle on Ice, the 1989 Super Bowl riot and the 1989 earthquake World Series. More

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