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Receiver Tony Simmons has arrived at Esks camp five months late. (Robert Taylor, Edmonton Sun)

Receiver Tony Simmons has arrived at Esks camp five months late. (Robert Taylor, Edmonton Sun)

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

The late-season airlift is in full swing. With all the aircraft circling yesterday, the Edmonton Eskimos locker room looked like Chicago's O'Hare airport.

The defending Grey Cup champs landed three receivers to bolster their talent-laden but injury-depleted receiving corps.

Among the three receivers touching down were former New England Patriot Tony Simmons, Detroit Lions cut Trevor Gaylor and Scott Cloman, late of the Washington Redskins.

Running back Ron McLendon, formerly of the Tennessee Titans, was the other player to turn up in the Esks room yesterday.

Whether by design or otherwise, the arrival of the trio of receivers is timely.

Wide receiver Ed Hervey is still being dogged by a knee injury and won't be available for Saturday's matchup versus the B.C. Lions.

"We're dealing with a knee here and I think I was rushed back a little too soon on it," Hervey said. "I'm going to take my time and make sure that it's 100 per cent."

INJURED RIGHT KNEE

Hervey injured his right knee during last month's loss in Toronto. The USC product missed the Week 8 tilt in Winnipeg but was back on the field the following week.

Head coach Tom Higgins said at the time the decision to scratch Hervey was due to a tight knee ligament and possible damage to the receiver's meniscus. Higgins indicated at that point arthroscopic surgery might be in the cards for Hervey.

Although clearly reluctant to have his knee scoped and be sidelined for a minimum of 10 days following the procedure, Hervey didn't rule that out yesterday.

The current plan calls for Hervey to take another week off. If the swelling persists, Hervey will have his knee scoped in an effort to determine precisely what's ailing him.

"It's a knee and you don't know what's going on with it until you actually probably go inside and look," offered Hervey, who missed the Labour Day Classic and the rematch.

"I'm trying to hold off on that as long as possible. I'm trying to get the strength back and, hopefully, by next week with the rest that I got, I'd be ready to go."

Slotback Terry Vaughn showed up on the practice field carrying a helmet, but tossed it onto the equipment cart shortly thereafter. Vaughn, who has battled ankle, knee and rib problems, eventually donned a baseball cap and assumed observer status.

And if things weren't bad enough, Brock Ralph was clutching at his left knee and limping to the bench a little over an hour into practice.

Ralph zigged when he should have zagged and collided with special teamer Antonio Wilson during a kickoff return drill.

"We just kind of ran into each other," sighed Ralph, who is now doubtful for Saturday and could be replaced on the roster by fellow non-import receiver Scott Robinson.

"There was a little bit of miscommunication. If I can play through the pain, I don't think it's going to be anything serious."

Ralph declined to discuss the injury in detail. However, Higgins said the initial diagnosis was a bruised knee. Higgins added should the injury be more serious, it could throw a wrench into the works and trigger some roster juggling.

"It's significant that he hurt himself enough," the head coach said. "We'll find out tomorrow."

FIVE MONTHS OVERDUE

Simmons's arrival in the Esks camp is five months overdue. The 29-year-old spent three seasons with New England, signed with the Esks over the winter but failed to turn up for training camp.

As a result, the six-foot-one, 212-pound Wisconsin product was shuffled to Edmonton's suspended list.

"I had some personal issues to deal with at home," explained Simmons, who had 23 receptions for 474 yards and three touchdowns during his rookie season with the Pats.

"What I decided to do at the time was get my personal situation together before I did anything else. Now, I can do what I have to."

While the Esks remain high on Simmons, after stops in NFL Europe and a stint in the Arena Football League Simmons appears taking a wait-and-see approach to three-down football.

Unlike the other new faces who are destined for the practice roster, Simmons is now under contract to the team. Given his contractual status with the team, that could amount to a 10-day look-see and nothing more.

"It's something new, (I'll) just try it out and see what happens with it," Simmons said.

"You can't really compare it to anything because everything is a lot different here. I just have to go with the flow and understand what I'm going into."


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