'Didn't see deer in headlights'

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:25 PM ET

Jacques Chapdelaine doesn't see a lost rookie in the pocket.

The Edmonton Eskimos' offensive co-ordinator firmly believes Stefan LeFors has a solid understanding of the playbook under his belt as he prepares to be the club's starter down the stretch of the season.

"I did not see him like a deer in the headlights," said Chapdelaine after reviewing LeFors' work in relief of an injured Ricky Ray on Friday.

With Ray likely finished for the year - playoffs included - with a separated throwing shoulder, LeFors is the new leader of the pack.

Although he is a CFL rookie, LeFors has quietly worked with Chapdelaine throughout the year to be ready for a relief situation like this.

The same can be said of Steven Jyles, who is suddenly one snap away from replacing LeFors as the starter.

"From the beginning of the year what we have been doing with all our quarterbacks is going into every game day they have been giving us a sheet of their favourite 20 plays by down and distance and by field position," explained Chapdelaine.

"We have gained an appreciation in paper as far as what Stefan and Steven like.

"These young men are not being parachuted into a situation right now that has been so exclusive to Ricky.

"There has been some common ground all of the quarterbacks have been able to walk through."

Of course, the proof will be in the pudding. LeFors has to produce points on the field.

In an extended practice week, the 26-year-old will have three and a half practice sessions - starting this morning - to prepare for Saturday's game in Toronto.

The Esks are two points from sole possession of the final playoff spot in the East Division.

The Argos lead the cross-over standings with 12 points.

Edmonton is three points from the final playoff spot in the West Division with five regular-season games left.

SHORT YARDAGE: Chapdelaine has been involved in a much uglier quarterback problem in his coaching career.

At the University of Laval many years ago, Chapdelaine had to develop a quarterback from scratch during an actual game.

"I had two quarterbacks that went out in the first quarter," he recalled.

"One of them got a concussion, I can't remember what the other injury was.

"So, I grabbed a receiver and while the defence was on I taught him one running play. And we went (on the field) and we ran that one running play twice and punted.

"He came back to the sideline and I taught him a second running play. And then we ran that.

"By the end of the half he knew three running plays and two passing plays.

"I have seen worse case scenarios (than this one with the Eskimos). I think we are very fortunate to have two young men that have got a good grasp of things."

FINISH LINES: Mookie Mitchell's visit inside the Edmonton Eskimos' locker room last week brought back a hilarious memory for Shannon Garrett. As a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders earlier in his career, Garrett was allowed - by Edmonton head coach Don Matthews - to quietly sneak into the Green and Gold dressing room the day before a game to use the hot tub. The following year - 2000 - he signed with the Eskimos as a free agent.


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