He's Maas-terful!

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

WINNIPEG -- Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia was a man in search of answers before last night's pre-season finale at CanadInns Stadium.

With Ricky Ray still nursing a hyperextended knee, one of the biggest question marks was the condition of Jason Maas's shoulder.

Maas was good on nine of 11 attempts for 120 yards prior to leaving the game midway through the second quarter of last night's 23-9 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers before a crowd of 28,013.

Maas also rushed the ball four times for 14 yards, including a five-yard touchdown run in the opening frame.

"I had no problems with my shoulder," said Maas. "I felt pretty comfortable out there but I need more time. I probably could have played more.

"I need more strength in my shoulder. It still doesn't quite feel the same as it has. That's more because it's fixed and I've got to learn how to play with it when it's fixed."

Surgeons repaired a pair of tears to the labrum in Maas's throwing shoulder in December.

Maas sat out last Friday's matchup versus the Blue Bombers and was limited to between 60 and 70 tosses per day during training camp.

Despite wanting to air the ball out, Maas failed to unleash a bomb during his stint behind centre.

"They weren't giving it up," offered Maas. "We called some stuff to throw deep if their safety played a little bit differently than what he did.

"To be honest, you maybe throw the ball deep four or five times a game, if you're lucky. That's not a huge part of our offence."

NOT SURPRISED

Maciocia, who could be looking at starting Maas in the Esks' June 24 regular season opener versus Ottawa, was not surprised by Maas's showing.

"There's still a lot of work there," opined Maciocia, who has until 2 p.m. tomorrow to pare his roster to 40 men. "I've said it all along, I think he's getting healthier.

"We've got to go back and take a look at him and see where he's at as far as the rehab. I thought he had a great first half. The only unfortunate thing was we weren't able to close out drives."

Esks' kicker Sean Fleming was good from 39, 31 and 11 yards. Khari Jones, who took over from Maas, fired a 23-yard touchdown strike to Trevor Gaylor in the third quarter to round out the Edmonton scoring.

SECOND PICK

Jones completed 11 of 18 balls for 151 yards and tossed his second pick of the pre-season. In addition to being sacked five times, Jones carried the ball three times for four yards. Jason Johnson, meanwhile, played the final 4:50 of the game. Any one of that trio could be the Esks starter next week.

"Anybody can start," Maciocia said. "Jason Johnson can start, that's how we feel about our quarterbacking situation."

Winnipeg's Troy Westwood hit on one of two field goal tries, splitting the uprights from 37 yards out and sailing a 29-yard attempt wide.

Back-up kicker Jon Ryan connected from 30 yards out and Winnipeg's Doug Brown grounded Jones in the end zone for a safety in the second quarter.

While Maas' performance may have given Maciocia a little peace of mind, there's still plenty of questions when it comes to the Esks return game.

Tony Tompkins and Keyuo Craver struggled through the opening half. The diminutive Tompkins returned four punts for 67 yards with his longest going for 40 yards.

Craver had two punt returns for 20 yards, including a 13-yard effort. The one-time New Orleans Saint also had a couple of kickoff returns or 18 and 27 yards as well as another that sailed over his head.

"I probably feel the same way I felt last week," Maciocia said. "I'm hoping the film will answer a few questions. There's a possibility after the film session I may still not know what to do."


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