Gaping holes on this team

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

The Eskimos batted a thousand when it came time to lure free agents back to the fold last off-season. It's unlikely they'll fare as well this time around.

Defensive linemen Rahim Abdullah and Albert Reese, wide receivers Scott Robinson and Ed Hervey and back-up pivot Bart Hendricks top the list of Esks players who are likely to test the free agent market.

But you can count veteran linebacker Singor Mobley among the handful of potential free agents likely to be re-signed.

"I have to make some decisions but I do want to be here," said Mobley, who led the team in tackles and played with a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

"I like it here. I like the city. I like the team. But that's not my decision. If they want me back, they'll show it."

CALLING IT A CAREER?

Among those Esks likely to call it a career are running backs Mike Pringle and Troy Mills, offensive linemen Chris Morris and Carlo Panaro, along with special teamer/long snapper Roger Reinson.

Pringle, 37, holds virtually every rushing record the CFL has to offer and would return if used as something other than the featured back.

Pringle will weigh his options.

"Part of the game that I have excelled lately in is pass receiving," said the CFL's all-time rushing leader.

"And I do that pretty well now. That's a part of it and I enjoy blitz protection a lot. Me getting the ball 20 times a game would not be a factor in me coming back."

The Esks could potentially be without rookie offensive lineman Joe McGrath, who is in a position to use the option-year escape clause to sign with an NFL club.

However, it's unclear if any of the teams south of the border are interested in the University of Miami product at this point.

One player the team will make a concerted effort to land is Ricky Ray, the cool-as-a-cucumber pivot who led the team to back-to-back Grey Cup appearances.

Ray signed with the New York Jets and is languishing on the squad's practice roster.

He's destined for free agency on both sides of the border at the conclusion of the 2004 NFL season.

Although the rumour mill has Ray headed to Toronto, should he abandon pursuit of work in the NFL and venture back across the border, head coach Tom Higgins doesn't see the phenom in anything but Green and Gold.

WHERE HE STARTED

"He should be coming back and be a member of the Edmonton Eskimos," Higgins suggested.

"This is where he got his start and he should have his opportunity to finish here. I would imagine all the other teams would like his services.

"Some people have some quarterbacks, so they're not going to bother with it. If he should become available, I would think the first people in line would be the Edmonton Eskimos."


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