No crisis here, says October

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 6:21 AM ET

Garfield is your prototypical fat cat. The defending Grey Cup-champion Edmonton Eskimos may be complacent but they're not fat cats. So says return man/part-time wide receiver Winston October.

"The last three years has been real easy for us," said October, who is averaging career highs in both punt and kickoff returns.

"We've always been in the Western Final. We've always hosted and it's just been easy. Other than 2001 when we had all those injuries, the last two years we haven't had more than five losses.

"I think you can get relaxed. This is a good wakeup call for us. We're playing hard but championship teams finish the hard game. Last year, that's what we did."

With five games to play, the 7-6-0 Esks have already surpassed their loss total for each of the last two seasons.

Barring total collapse by the front-running B.C. Lions, the Green and Gold isn't likely to capture its fourth consecutive divisional crown.

October, for one, regards that as a positive after three seasons on easy street.

"I think it's good for us," he offered. "I think we're going to show everybody around the league that we're not front-runners.

"We're not a team that only plays their best or gets up only when things are good."

Mini airlift

Cornerback Brad Franklin showed up in the Esks locker-room yesterday. Carolina's seventh-round pick in the 2002 NFL draft, Franklin, 24, played his college football at University Louisiana LaFayette and was a late cut of the Seattle Seahawks this year.

With Darrel Crutchfield still dealing with the residual effects of an early season knee injury, there's some speculation Franklin could find his way to the roster this week or next.

Although Franklin took some reps on the corner yesterday, head coach Tom Higgins says Franklin's just passing through and any change to the secondary is unlikely at this point.

"We want to see him," Higgins offered. "He's got nice size and runs very well.

"He's bounced around and played in NFL Europe. His strength is man-to-man coverage. We're here to evaluate him for two weeks."

The six-foot-one, 184-pounder appeared in four games with Jacksonville Jaguars last season and signed with Seattle as a free agent in February. He was allocated by the Seahawks to the Scottish Claymores.

Late hits ...

Crutchfield (knee) and linebacker Singor Mobley (knee) were among the interested bystanders at yesterday's practice. As is not the custom, running back Mike Pringle (ankle) took limited reps ... Charles Roberts captured his second straight CFL offensive player of the week award (154 yards on 30 carries and three TDs) after he led Winnipeg to a 44-34 win over Toronto. Argos safety Orlondo Steinauer earned the defensive award.


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