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Running back Jerome Messam hopeful he can remain with Saskatchewan Roughriders

01/30/2015 05:34 EST | Updated 04/01/2015 05:59 EDT
He's not patient by nature, but the business of pro football has taught Jerome Messam how to play the waiting game.

The Saskatchewan running back is scheduled to become a free agent Feb. 10. Although talks between Messam's agent, Montreal-based Darren Gill, and the Roughriders are continuing, the 29-year-old Toronto native isn't worrying about the uncertainty surrounding where he'll be next season.

Instead he's focused on what he does control, most notably his off-season preparation. That wasn't always the case for Messam, but it's a lesson learned from playing for four different teams over his five-year CFL career.

"I'm not a patient person but I've learned to be," Messam said with a chuckle during a telephone interview. "I've learned through maturity and life and knowing you can't always have things your own way and have grown to become a more patient person.

"That's all you can do. It's out of my hands."

Not that the patient approach is the easiest.

"It's tough, especially for me," Messam said. "I've been a guy that's bounced around a little bit in the league.

"I'd like to find a place where I fit and they can utilize and appreciate my talents. It's difficult to deal with not knowing where you're going to be but ideally I'd like to end up back in Saskatchewan."

The Riders locked up veteran Weston Dressler on Friday. The 29-year-old slotback, who was also slated to become a free agent next month, agreed to a four-year extension.

The six-foot-three 245-pound Messam joined the Riders last July. He rushed for 382 yards on 70 carries (5.5-yard average) with one TD last season while adding eight catches for 134 yards.

Saskatchewan used multiple running backs as Anthony Allen rushed for a team-high 930 yards with Will Ford (452 yards), Messam and Hugh Charles (86 yards) also seeing action.

The Roughriders had the CFL's third-ranked ground attack (132.2 yards per game) last season. But the team's quest to repeat as Grey Cup champions fizzled after starter Darian Durant suffered an elbow injury in a 30-24 win over Winnipeg on Sept. 7.

Saskatchewan (10-8) limped into the playoffs, losing six of its final eight regular-season games before dropping an 18-10 decision to Edmonton in the West Division semifinal. With a healthy Durant expected back in 2015, Messam likes the Riders' chances to be a factor again in the West Division.

"We were on a roll before Darian had his injury," Messam said. "There's a great group of vets and young talent there and I think the sky is the limit.

"It was a great situation last year in Saskatchewan ... I love playing there as the fans are awesome and the community treats us like gold. But I know the nature of the beast, football is a business at this level before anything. Wherever I go, I'm going to be happy to be working and still living my dream. I just want to go and be able to contribute and help the team the best I can wherever I can."

Messam's best season was in 2011 when he was named the CFL's top Canadian after rushing for 1,057 yards with Edmonton. He has run for 1,115 yards over the last three years combined with the Eskimos, Montreal and Saskatchewan, but has averaged 4.8 yards per carry.

Messam, who grew up in Brampton, Ont., has 2,264 career rushing yards and is averaging a solid 5.02 yards per attempt.

One factor that could help Messam return to Saskatchewan is the club's recent hiring of Jacques Chapdelaine as offensive co-ordinator. Chapdelaine held that post with the B.C. Lions in 2010 when Messam was a rookie with the Vancouver team.

"Jacques Chapdelaine and I do go back to my rookie year," Messam said. "We've talked and it will be an open training camp so hopefully we can get this deal done and get back together."

Wherever he ends up, Messam is eager to have the benefit of a full training camp to show he's capable of being a featured back.

"My legs still feel great," Messam said. "I've been blessed to not really have had any serious injuries to hold me back or keep me from playing too long.

"There's bumps and bruises that go along with the season but you fight through those. Over the past few years I feel like the game has slowed down and become a lot more fun to play."

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