This year has been a bounce-back season so far for Roughriders left tackle Xavier Fulton.
Through four games, the Chicago native has looked more like he did in 2012 and 2013 after a difficult 2014.
“The biggest difference, I would say, has been, I changed my attitude. I definitely had to change my focus to make sure I was taking care of myself both on and off the field,” said Fulton.
“(I’m) approaching each day with a bit more focus and determination. Just not knowing what the next day is going to bring.”
Fulton admitted that after his rookie-of-the-year worthy season in 2012 and a strong sophomore campaign in 2013, he may have taken his job for granted in 2014.
Because of that, his work on and off of the field slipped.
“When I first came to the team, I had been out of football for 10 months. I was hungry and determined and I just wanted to get back to playing football, doing what I loved,” he said.
“Along the way, after those first couple of years, I got a little complacent. Just little bit of going through the motions in practices. Just stuff I should have been more mature enough not to do.”
Late in the year last year, Fulton was actually benched for four games. He took that as the wake-up call he needed to get his career back on track.
“I also needed that time to heal. I was playing injured, but that was no excuse for the performance I put out there. I was blowing assignments you learn day one and that’s not good,” he said.
At the end of the season, the coaching staff told Fulton he had to get his house in order or else someone else would be coming for his job.
At the time, it appeared that Levy Adcock would be that guy. Instead, Adcock has now found himself on the other side of the offensive line due to the departure of Ben Heenan.
The work in the offseason has paid off for Fulton so far. He’s back to his usual self when it comes to protecting the quarterback and blocking for the run game.
He’s only been penalized once too – something his fellow offensive linemen can’t say.
“It happens to some guys. Some guys don’t bounce back, some guys do. I like to think I’ve bounce back pretty well.”