No guarantees

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:38 PM ET

Veteran members of the Edmonton Eskimos better realize that Danny Maciocia isn't messing around when it comes to competition at training camp.

There'll be four quarterbacks, five running backs and a dozen each of receivers and defensive backs among the 70 or so hopefuls when the tryouts begin in late May - the latest signings adding to the DB depth with Jacoby Shepherd and Marcus Winn coming on board yesterday.

"There are no guarantees and there might even be a few more surprises," said Maciocia. "I wouldn't say that the veterans are in trouble, but there will be competition everywhere. No one will get their job by acclamation. Those days are gone.

"That's what happened last year, which is typical when an organization is coming off a championship season. You think you can go back to doing the same again with same old guys."

Shepherd comes to Edmonton with a slightly checkered past during his two seasons with the St. Louis Rams. The six-foot-two, 204-pound cornerback/safety was reportedly fined several times for team infractions, got into a fight with a teammate during practice and had his locker cleaned out for showing up late. A 2000 second-round draft pick of the Rams out of Oklahoma State, Shepherd later had stints with Houston, Oakland, Detroit, Green Bay and the New York Jets.

Winn, a six-foot-one, 205-pounder out of Alabama State, split the 2004 season between Baltimore and the B.C. Lions.

The improvement in Canadian content during the off-season allowed the Eskimos to release three non-import players - fullback Gilles Lezi, linebacker Sean Spender and offensive lineman Devin Rodger. Lezi was the Eskimos' second pick (10th overall) in the 2004 draft out of Northwestern, but he handled the ball only three times last season for a total of 12 yards. Spender notched 12 special-teams tackles in 2004.

ESKIE NOTES: Danny Maciocia's holiday won't be all fun and games. He'll spend part of next week comparing notes and ideas with East Carolina University head coach Skip Holtz ... The doors to the Commonwealth Stadium Sport and Fitness Centre will close at 2 p.m. today for Wes Montgomery's memorial service.

STAMPS PICK GOES BACK TO SCHOOL: Red faces around McMahon Stadium are usually reserved for game day.

But they were plentiful among Stamps brass yesterday after discovering top draft pick, Miguel Robede, will not be coming to training camp just a month away.

The defensive lineman, chosen first overall Thursday by Stamps GM of player personnel Jim Barker, will return to Laval this fall.

Robede said yesterday he plans on finishing his administration degree while playing a fourth season with the Rouge et Or.

His professional football future is uncertain, at best, although Tom Higgins, Stamps head coach/VP of football operations, insisted Robede is not a wasted pick.

"There's a whole bunch of people in the CFL who would have been caught by surprise as well, and a whole lot of people might be laughing at us," Higgins said.

MOSS ROLLS WITH RAIDERS: Randy Moss stopped briefly to answer Norv Turner.

"How was it?" the Oakland Raiders coach asked his new star receiver after the team's first minicamp practice yesterday.

Moss just smiled and gave the thumbs-up sign as he walked off the field, his long braids swinging and glistening in the California sunshine.

Acquired last month in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings, Moss looked sharp in a short practice yesterday in his new No. 18 uniform and oversized grey shorts.

"I thought Randy was outstanding," Turner said after the afternoon practice. "He handled it extremely well. It's a whole different system than he's been around.''


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