Gaydosh anxious : Former Dinos star keen to resume NFL career

Gaydosh anxious : Former Dinos star keen to resume NFL career

In fact, the Carolina Panthers’ sophomore defensive lineman is so anxious to get going, he’s leaving for Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday. That’s well ahead of the start of organized team activities April 21.

But there’s a good reason for the six-foot-four, 305-pound Canadian’s eagerness. Gaydosh, 23, of Peace River, Alta., spent his rookie NFL season on injured reserve after undergoing surgery last August for a herniated disc in his back.

The former University of Calgary star — who was selected first overall in last year’s CFL draft by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats — was injured while performing a conditioning drill.

“Going back now I feel I have a chip on my shoulder and something to prove,” Gaydosh said during a telephone interview Friday. “Not only to the Panthers but to myself.

“The biggest thing is I’ve got to go there and prove to myself that I’m 100 per cent and healthy. There’s only so much you can do in the off-season until we get the pads on and contact starts. Everything with the surgery, rehab and my training has been perfect and the first guy I go up against I’ll want to hit as hard as I can to see how it feels.”

Gaydosh, who signed a three-year deal as a rookie, went under the knife Aug. 7 and wasn’t cleared medically until Jan. 14. He said he’s experienced no setbacks this off-season and has made steady gains in the gym with his deadlift and bench press both being more than 400 pounds.

Moments after injuring his back, Gaydosh admits he initially thought his days playing football were over.

“That was the first thing that went through my head,” he said. “I spent the last eight years trying to get to this point and here it was all lost in the blink of an eye.

“But medicine today is outrageous. The scar I used to have was six inches long and how it’s down to about an inch and a half. You can still see it but anyone not knowing about the surgery wouldn’t know what that mark was all about.”

Still, it was a very sobering experience for Gaydosh.

“I definitely thought I was invincible up to that point,” he said. “That changed that thought process pretty quick.

“This (pro football) isn’t something everyone gets the chance to do and there’s a reason why. It’s a tough sport and this type of thing can happen at any time.”

For Gaydosh, being forced to watch an entire football season for the first time was difficult enough.

“It was the first football season I never played in, that was tough,” he said. “I’ve never been a fan of watching because it just makes me want to play too much.”

However, Gaydosh remained with the Panthers throughout the season, attending meetings while undergoing regular rehab.

“When I got hurt, I was like, ‘They’re going to cut me, give me an injury settlement, send me home and I’ll have to do all this (rehab) on my own,'” Gaydosh said. ‘But my dad told me, ‘Look at this from a business standpoint. If they think it’s worth it they’ll invest in you and keep you there,’ and that’s essentially what they did.

“He looked at it much more clearly than I did at the time. Leave it to parents to talk sense into you.”

Gaydosh said having the benefit of a full NFL season under his belt will help him in 2014.

“I feel a lot better going into it now,” he said. “I learned a lot about the mental aspect of the game last year and that’s a big confidence boost in itself.”

AP