QBs a concern, but Hervey's ready

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

While the gimpy right knee of Ricky Ray and the surgically repaired shoulder of Jason Maas has been the centre of attention through training camp, they aren't the only troublesome joints Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia has had to worry about.

With the 2005 season opener against Ottawa Friday fast approaching and the health of Maciocia's top two quarterbacks somewhat dubious, there is also the matter of receiver Ed Hervey's left knee.

Hervey, a hauler of backside and stretcher of defences, has spent more time resting and watching than going deep since tweaking the knee June 2, the day he got tangled up with Davis Sanchez, and he didn't even dress for either pre-season game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

So, while the readiness of Ray and Maas is a legitimate concern, so is the status of one of the go-to guys on the other end of Edmonton's aerial attack in a receiving corps that's already without inside man Terry Vaughn.

Or is it?

"He'll be starting on Friday, so we can get that out of the way right now," said Maciocia yesterday. "I would think that's a good thing."

SCORCHES DEFENCES

To hear Maciocia tell it, it's a case of better-safe-than-sorry when it comes to limiting Hervey's on-field participation. It's not like the 32-year-old speedster from Houston, who scorched defences for 1,000 or more yards twice in the past four seasons, had to make the team.

If there's any rust because of inactivity, Maciocia's confident Hervey will shake it off before he lines up against the Renegades. In any case, that's a trade-off Maciocia is willing to live with.

"You need to be careful," he said. "You want to get off on the right foot as far as trying to be as healthy as you possibly can be. If you go into the season banged up, it's almost as if you're looking for trouble.

"Ed brings so much to this football team. We wanted to make sure he was there when it counts ... he will practise and practise at the speed he's used to this week, so that'll help him for Friday."

Hervey says he was fit enough to play against the Bombers in Thursday's rematch in Winnipeg, but admits the extra rest did him good. Like Maciocia, he's certain he'll be ready to fly when the Renegades come calling.

"I'm completely confident I'll be ready this week," Hervey said. "I could've played (Thursday). The coach and I decided another week couldn't hurt. It's more important to start the season healthy.

"To me, rust is something that's all mental. Of course, I'm going to have to do some extra running, and I haven't dealt with any contact as far as pre-season games, but, when you've played so many years, when you get that first catch and first hit, it becomes second nature."

Limited to 12 games last season - he hauled in 53 passes for 629 yards after racking up 1,022 yards in 2003 - by a sprained posterior-cruciate ligament in his right knee, Hervey is eager to get back at it.

HAPPY TO BE HERE

"I'm ready for the season," Hervey said. "I'm just looking forward to getting out there and playing. I'm excited about it."

MORE MOVES: The Esks made more player moves yesterday, adding Keyuo Craver, Patrick Kabongo, Chris Kelley and Rhett McLane to the 40-man roster and moving Chris Morris, Steve Charbonneau, Marcus Winn and Antico Dalton to the one-game injured list. Randy Spencer, Glen Carson, Jason Lamar, Ron McClendon and Robert LeBlanc are also on the one-game injured list. Tony Tompkins and J.R. LaRose are headed to the practice roster.


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