October 8, 2008
One last bite for WolverineMaurer's return a big boost for Esks
By JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA
Danny Maciocia has made some smart personnel moves in his time as head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos.
Acquiring Dan Comiskey and Troy Davis in 2005 is near the top of the list.
Getting kicker/punter Noel Prefontaine before the start of training camp this spring is also in the top five of his best moves.
And bringing special teams ace Mike Maurer back to the club yesterday - signing him to a contract for the rest of the season -could easily become another excellent transaction.
In fact, on paper, it looks like a great move.
Maurer is an 11-year CFL veteran who knows what it takes to win in the playoffs and lift the Grey Cup.
He has two CFL championship rings, including one in 2005 when he was the outstanding Canadian in that game at B.C. Place for the Green and Gold.
Edmonton needs better non-import talent - and it just got better with one signing.
Maurer led the Eskimos in special teams tackles in 2006 and shared the team lead last year with 20 tackles.
On top of that, he has reliable hands out of the backfield if needed in offensive formations. And he's a proven long snapper.
With regular long-snapper Taylor Inglis bouncing the ball to Prefontaine in back-to-back games before suffering a concussion last Saturday, the Esks need to make sure they have depth at that position.
"I think we touched base two, three weeks ago. But just to see how he was doing. Asked him how his family was doing, where his business was at," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia.
"The door has always been left open, even when he decided to retire."
Maurer's retirement announcement came in May for family reasons.
Two young children, a wife and a relatively new business - Wolverine Tree Felling - in Regina left him without enough time to keep playing for the Eskimos for a full season.
But with non-import J.R. LaRose breaking his leg last Saturday, the club placed another call to Maurer on Sunday and a deal was done.
Maurer's family in Regina is willing to make the sacrifice for the next month to seven weeks.
"The kids are going to the same school - kindergarten and Grade 2. That helps out," said Maurer.
"They have a place to go in the morning before they walk to school and there is the after-school program.
"There is a big difference between six weeks and six months. And that was a key factor (in returning to the team).
"This is going to be (my) last chance to play some ball."
In other words, this is only a short-term return to the team.
Call it a seven-week effort to get a Grey Cup ring.
Wearing No. 19, Maurer -who is known as The Wolverine - was back on the practice field yesterday and could be on the field Friday night in Vancouver (8:30 p.m. MT, TSN, CHED) when the Eskimos play the B.C. Lions.
"It is a little surreal," he said on occupying the same locker stall he had from 2005-07.
"It is awesome seeing the guys again and being welcomed back with open arms."
And with only four regular-season games left before a probable trip to the post-season for the 8-6 Eskimos, it appears teammates will see a stronger fire from Maurer down the stretch.
"I played two football seasons and had two fighting seasons back-to-back (in 2006-07)," Maurer explained. "I think last year I was a little bit tired.
"Now that I have had this break, I am ready to get back into it."