Stamps won't be outplayed again

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:46 PM ET

EDMONTON — All week long, as short as it may be, both teams talked about how touch how nothing can change in three off-days between big games.

If you can’t change the plays, maybe you can change the players?

The Edmonton Eskimos certainly hope Maurice Lloyd can change their fortunes.

After getting whipped 32-8 Monday in the Labour Day Classic in Calgary, the Eskimos made a few moves, cutting special-teamer Kitwana Jones and firing offensive co-ordinator Rick Worman.

But if they are to reverse the result Friday in the rematch at Commonwealth Stadium, their star free-agent middle linebacker might have something to do with it.

“He has fresh legs,” said Stamps quarterback Henry Burris about Lloyd, who missed three games.

“He will ready to fly around and make some big plays. We have to keep him off Joffrey (Reynolds, the No. 1 running back) and away from myself.

“I have to be aware of where he is. He’s too good of a player not to be aware of him. We will keep an eye on him because he’s a game changer. He was that in Saskatchewan and he’s that here with Edmonton.”

Lloyd was injured during a road loss in Hamilton Aug. 8 and missed the first Battle of Alberta. The Eskimos won that one, though not with defence as it took a last-second touchdown drive by Ricky Ray to secure a 38-35 victory.

The Stamps were better in all three phases Monday and it wasn’t a contest from the second quarter on.

The Eskimos lacked fire and energy, and Lloyd should provide that because he’s one of the undisputed emotional leaders in Edmonton.

“They outplayed us on Monday,” Lloyd said. “They whooped us up and down the field. They put up points and beat us fair and square.

“I just feel no team in this league should beat us by 24 points. If a team beats us, it should be by one point and be a dogfight to the end.

“If we come out and spot them 21 points and expect to come back, you are in for a rude awakening. They know how to get the lead and go for the jugular.”

Without Lloyd the past three games, the Eskimos defence has suffered, allowing net yardage totals of 519 to Calgary, 427 to the Tiger-Cats and then 476 to the Stamps again.

Prior to that, with Lloyd in action, the Eskimos held Hamilton to 299, Montreal to 306 and Saskatchewan to 294.

“He’s a huge factor on the field,” said Eskimos receiver Maurice Mann. “He draws a lot of respect from other teams.

“Teams don’t choose to go at him too much and that will be a big factor to how well our rush defence is doing.

“Without him there, you can see a little hole in us … but it’s good to have him back in the locker-room and on the field. He’s a team leader and we look to him now for a lot more than just making tackles.”

A week ago, Jones made headlines by saying he thought the Stamps were a cocky bunch and that he didn’t like them.

Lloyd agreed with those statements about the Stamps prior to this season, but said he couldn’t comment on them in 2009 because he hasn’t faced them.

But being that he’s played Burris and the Stamps offence several times before when he was with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Lloyd does have a great deal of respect for the Calgary quarterback.

“If you talk to certain players in this league, they don’t respect Henry, but I tip my hat to that young man and show respect to him,” Lloyd said. “He took them to a Grey Cup and won after people thought he should have been cut.

“They started off slow this year but he’s bringing them back. They are tied for first. I take my hat off to Henry for all he accomplished from the time people said he shouldn’t have been here.

“If he feels he’s not getting respect in this league, some people need to open their eyes and see who is playing real hard.”


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