Winnipeg Blue Bombers gotta have Faith

Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie takes part in individual drills during training camp on Friday at Investors Group Field. Austin Siragusa / Global News

WINNIPEG – Training camp means it’s a new year and a fresh start. And Winnipeg Blue Bombers first overall draft pick Faith Ekakitie is trying to put a disappointing rookie season behind him.

“Of course I wanted to play more. Who doesn’t want to play more?” Ekakitie asked. “I didn’t give myself the best chance last year. I came in, and I was overweight and out of shape to put it simply.”

Ekakitie’s weight issues are nothing new — sometimes even the pros have the same problems as the ‘Joes’.

“I’m one of those guys who struggles to keep it off,” he said. “Just being cognizant of what I’m putting in my body. Hey, if I have a choice between a burger and a salad — nine times out of ten you choose the salad.”

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It seems pretty simple now in the midst of the two-a-days, but that’s easy to forget when it’s the football off-season. Ekakite quickly put on 30 pounds and weighed as much as 322 pounds over the winter. It’s all part of learning to be a professional.

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“Guys at the University of Iowa did a really good job at keeping me accountable and having me stay on top of my weight,” Ekakitie said. “So for the first time in four or five years, not having someone that’s constantly harping on me, saying ‘Hey you got to do this, you got to do that’… that was an adjustment for me and I think I learned that the hard way.”

WATCH: Raw Faith Ekakitie Interview

Click to play video: 'RAW: Blue Bombers Faith Ekakitie Interview'
RAW: Blue Bombers Faith Ekakitie Interview

Ekakitie is back down to his playing weight of 292 pounds and he has faith that he can now make a difference after sitting on the sidelines for much of his rookie campaign.

“I’m a better athlete,” he said. “Coming into this camp, more mobile, more flexible. Just overall a lot better than I was a year ago from this time.”

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And his head coach believes the defensive lineman is still on the right path.

“He’s certainly on track,” head coach Mike O’Shea said. “Like any other second year player, that they show pretty good improvement from the first year to the second.”

You just gotta have faith.

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