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FRANK ZICARELLI: Argonauts' Gilchrist hoping to make impression in his second kick at the CFL can

CALGARY , Alta. – First real game in three games, first taste of three-down football, to say it’s been quite the journey for Kennan Gilchrist would be to state the obvious for a linebacker who brings athleticism to the field and the potential to make plays.

Like many first-year players with the Argos, there’s a learning curve.

He was part of last week’s roster in Winnipeg and Gilchrist will be back in action Thursday night when the Argos play the host Stamps.

“It’s about gaining experience for me,” said Gilchrist, who spent two seasons on the Houston Texans practice roster. “And there’s a lot to learn, new things like the guys (receivers) moving (waggle). I think I did okay (in Winnipeg). At times I made mistakes, at times I did well.

“That’s the whole purpose of being a young player. You understand there will be mistakes, but you have to keep them to a minimum. You learn from them and grow. That’s the biggest thing I’m trying to do. And work on my eyes. There are a lot of moving parts in this league. As coach Chamb (Corey Chamblin) talks about all the time it’s about eye placement.”

For Gilchrist, it’s a matter of processing everything prior to the snap and then executing his assignment.

His skill set is suited for the CFL and all that it entails.

What he lacks is experience.

“Even with your athleticism you need to know how to use it,” said Gilchrist, a native of South Carolina who played his NCAA football at Appalachian State. “That’s what I’m learning to do now. Coach Chamb and the staff have done a great job in helping me become a better player. I am athletic, but I want to become a better linebacker. I think I’m taking the right steps.”

Players such as Gilchrist offer hope for an Argos team desperately searching for its first win of the season following four straight losses.

As for his second game in the CFL, Gilchrist is eagerly awaiting the challenge the Stamps will present.

“I’m a whole lot better after getting that first one under your belt,” he said. “Just to get that first one is good, but now is the time for me to be myself, go out there and play and do what I’ve always done, which is to have fun.

“I think that first time when you play you’re kind of out there. You’re just trying to seize the moment. Now, I feel comfortable and ready to help the team win.”

One of Gilchrist’s teammates is receiver Armanti Edwards, who also attended Appalachian State.

“He’s from Greenwood, S.C., and I’m from Abbeville, S.C. The two are five minutes apart. I grew up knowing who Armanti was. He’s been a legend everywhere he’s been.”

During his time as an Argo, Gilchrist has leaned on Edwards.

“Armanti has been great to me, but all the veterans on our team have been there for me when I have questions,” added Gilchrist. “You lean on them and you try to learn from them. One thing coach Chamb talks about is how a rookie can’t really teach me how to become a better player, only an experienced player can teach me to reach a higher level. Guys who have been there before and have experience are important, but it’s also good to have a former Mountaineer on the same team.”

Nick Arbuckle lines up under centre for Calgary.

“I feel they (Stamps) do a good job, in my opinion, of taking a lot of pressure off him, being able to get the ball out of his hands (quickly),” said Gilchrist. “He’s done a great job of adjusting and making plays. They are a well run offence and we have to bring our A game.”

READY TO MAKE AN IMPACT

CALGARY – Justin Herdman-Reed hopes to be right in the middle of the action on defence when he lines up at middle linebacker for the Argos.

The key for Herdman-Reed is to be in the right spot and make the right reads as he makes his first-career start.

With veteran linebacker Ian Wild (knee) placed on the injury list, the Argos have shuffled the deck, moving Micah Awe to the weak side and inserting Herdman-Reed inside.

Herdman-Reed, a former Argos draft pick, is a Canadian, allowing the Argos to start American Rodney Smith in the slot LLevi Noel lined up for all four games this season.

Awe played in B.C. before joining the Argos in free agency.

He played with Justin’s twin brother, Jordan, who entered the world two minutes after Justin.

As a Leo, Awe played the weak side linebacker position on a unit where Solomon Elimimian manned the middle.

Justin Herdman-Reed is one of the nicest individuals you’ll ever meet, a studious worker who puts in countless hours before and after practice, a no maintenance player who will leave everything out on the field.

“That dude there is going to play a long time if he’s blessed to stay healthy,” said head coach Corey Chamblin. “He’s going to be one of those hall of fame dudes because of his work ethic. He’s continuing to grow as a leader on this team, continuing to grow as a player.”

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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