Wednesday, June 8, 2016
MUELLER: "I'D DIVE AT HIS ANKLES"
The running back's off-season training regimen included track workouts in his hometown of Toronto under the eye of former Canadian sprinter Desai Williams.
Messam says his training group included CFL compatriots Andre Durie of the Toronto Argonauts, Chad Owens and Courtney Stephen of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Brandon Stewart of the B.C. Lions.
Williams, a 1984 Olympian who is now a speed, strength and conditioning coach, put them through sprint drills up to three times a week
"He really emphasized speed, strength and strengthening our hips,'' Messam said Wednesday at McMahon Stadium.
"I just feel like my legs are super-strong. My stride is strong and my hips feel great. I feel loose and elusive.''
From Joffrey Reynolds to Jon Cornish, a Stampeder has been the CFL's star running back for much of the last decade.
Cornish's retirement in December makes the six-foot-three, 245-pound Messam the focal point of Calgary's ground game.
Acquired in a trade with the Saskatchewan Roughriders last October, Messam played four games, including two in the post-season, to get a feel for the Stampeder organization.
The 31-year-old signed a contract extension in February.
"Coming back and starting training camp, he gets to learn the base of all the plays he's running,'' running backs coach Marc Mueller said.
"He's a veteran, he's been around, he's someone our younger guys look to in the meeting room. Hopefully we see him for 18 games and see what he can do in red and white.''
Calgary is Messam's fifth team in seven CFL seasons after stints with B.C., Edmonton, Montreal and Saskatchewan. He was named the league's Most Outstanding Canadian in 2011 when he posted 1,057 rushing yards for the Eskimos.
Messam surpassed 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his career in 2015 and was named a West Division all-star. He ran for a combined 122 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown for Calgary in last year's Western semifinal and final.
His size, and the power he generates with it, make Messam difficult to bring down.
"I'd dive at his ankles. Try to survive,'' Mueller said.
But Messam's receiving skills were an unexpected bonus for Calgary in the playoffs.
He contributed four catches for 81 yards in the division semifinal and another four catches for 45 yards in the final.
"He's a big dude and he's a lot more nimble than he gets credit for,'' Stampeder head coach Dave Dickenson said.
"When he got here, the thing that surprised us is he's got pretty good hands and he can run routes, so he's got versatility which is nice.
"Depending on how we work our roster, he's going to be the hammer. He's going to be the lead horse and mix it in from there.''
Calgary hosts the Grey Cup champion Edmonton Eskimos in a pre-season game Saturday.