New version of Esks suddenly has tons of confidence

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

The 2007 edition of the Edmonton Eskimos wouldn't have pulled off Thursday's comeback.

OK, nobody really knows that for sure - but it is a pretty good assumption.

Trailing by four points to the Calgary Stampeders on Thursday night with 1:38 left in the game, this year's Eskimo crew clawed back to win.

Last year's club lacked confidence.

This year's club suddenly has a boatload of it heading into next week's home game (Thursday, 8 p.m.) against Toronto.

But the story behind this week's 34-31 Edmonton win over Calgary is the fact the Eskimos showed an impressive amount of toughness and good character.

That is a very good sign for a team that has been searching to improve the character of the players in the room.

Take starting defensive tackle Jim Davis - who had a great first half with a sack and two great tackles on Joffrey Reynolds.

Davis left the game with an apparent shoulder injury before the end of the second quarter, going to the locker-room with the medical staff.

"I was in extreme pain," said Davis. "But guys came in (at half-time) and said: 'We need you. Come out there and suck it up - 30 more minutes left.'

"That is the main thing that stuck in my head.

"I was never really put in a situation where you got to suck it up (earlier in my career). But I am glad I did."

RETURNED IN TIME

The rookie returned five minutes into the third quarter.

The second example is starting defensive back Lenny Williams. On a few plays in the drive that led to Nik Lewis' go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Williams wasn't on the field.

Back-up Tristan Jackson was trying to fill his shoes at a critical moment in the game.

"It was a tough game for me," said Williams before going on to describe his list of problems. "I got blindsided. Trying to make a tackle, a guy's foot gets stuck in my shoulder pad and almost ripped my shoulder up."

But after Ricky Ray and Jason Tucker connected for a 36-yard touchdown with 55 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to give Edmonton the 34-31 lead, Williams came back on the field to help kill Calgary's last gasp attempt.

INTERCEPTION SEALED IT

That drive ended with a Jordan Younger interception to seal the win.

"I came back to finish the game. It is about guts. Tucker made that great catch, so I had to come out there and play," said Williams, after gingerly putting his clothes on in the Eskimos' locker-room late Thursday night.

Receiver Kelly Campbell is another example, returning for the winning touchdown drive after suffering a knee injury earlier in the game.

The rookie actually lied about his health to the training staff so they would let him back on the field.

And after the game, Campbell went out of his way to thank his teammates for helping put up 158 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

"I got to thank my other receivers, who opened (the field) up and made a way for me to make those plays," said Campbell.

That is another good character sign.

This Eskimos team still has a long way to go, needing to improve defensively and in the rushing department.

But behind the scenes, there are some positive signs.


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