Random thoughts and observations as the Edmonton Eskimos prepare for Friday's rematch with the B.C. Lions at Commonwealth Stadium ...
Credit is due
Giving credit where credit is due, Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia needs to be applauded for releasing Trey Young and Ron McClendon this week.
For salary cap reasons, those are the right moves.
The club announced both cuts yesterday - but the much bigger story is what this does for the team in the long haul.
Nobody within the Green and Gold organization will talk about it publicly, but cutting both players saves the team an estimated $2,000 a week in direct player costs.
An average practice roster player in the CFL earns about $500-$600 a week plus another few hundred in living allowance.
But there are other savings to the Eskimos by releasing Young and McClendon.
By sending both veterans packing the team gets critical room on the practice roster for this week's game.
With CFL rules stating the practice roster must not exceed seven players, Edmonton now has two open spots where it can move players.
By dropping to five bodies on the PR, Maciocia can shuffle two healthy imports to that list before Friday's game instead of having to pay full salary cost by hiding a player on injured reserve.
With three games left in the regular season, the 9-6 Eskimos could save an estimated $10,000-$15,000 through these two cuts when all the costs are calculated.
And providing Edmonton is under the $4.2 million salary cap at the end of the year - which is expected - any money left over can be used before Dec. 31 to re-sign players for 2009 and beyond.
Smart head coaches and general managers keep salary costs down for future years by giving key players an upfront bonus late in the calendar year in exchange for a smaller base salary the following year.
As for Young and McClendon getting released, Young was expendable with Siddeeq Shabazz becoming comfortable at safety and McClendon was not good enough in his two starts at tailback.
Barring another injury on the current roster, McClendon's career with the Esks is likely over.
The condition of the natural grass field at Commonwealth Stadium will be less than ideal come Friday night when the Lions and Eskimos kick off (7 p.m., CISN FM).
The Canadian soccer game today at Commonwealth Stadium - plus the soccer practice sessions yesterday - will definitely impact the only grass field in the league.
"It is going to be interesting as far as the footing is concerned," said Maciocia.
"We have got to be well prepared for the surface. I think the team that is able to handle the elements out there is probably going to be the team that comes out on top."
An unknown member of the Eskimos had some fun with linebacker Siddeeq Shabazz yesterday, hanging a picture of him arguing with the officials in B.C. last week in his locker stall.
Shabazz is still miffed at getting tossed out of the game last Friday for allegedly throwing a punch.
The fact he wasn't fined by the league this week appears to back his case that he didn't throw any right hooks.
"It is kind of crazy to see Dario (Romero) get fined. But what can you do?" cracked Shabazz on Romero's $300 fine for his role in the Rob Murphy dust-up last Friday.
Maciocia has declared running back AJ Harris as probable to play Friday. It would be his first start in five games after an MCL sprain.
Word out of B.C. is that starting running back Stefan Logan and slotback Jason Clermont won't play this week.