It's smashmouth!

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI --

, Last Updated: 2:15 AM ET

The Green and Gold are starting to look a little like the Silver and Black.

And head coach Danny Maciocia doesn't have a problem with that.

Truth be told, the Edmonton Eskimos head coach likes to see a touch of Oakland Raider in his defence - especially on Labour Day, where the toughest team usually wins.

"We're not going to go out there and play like choirboys because that's not who we are,'' said Maciocia, who doesn't begrudge his guys a well-timed aggression penalty if it sends the right message to the other team.

"We have to play with an edge, we have to play with an attitude. That's something I've been preaching since Day 1.

"I think you need to get after people, it's as simple as that. Whether it's Labour Day or a pre-season game, just get after people.''

They do. With hard cases like Joe Montford and A.J. Gass up front, and some big hitters in the backfield, the Eskimos defence has a reputation as an increasingly difficult, and painful, challenge.

Off the field, they're the nicest guys you want to meet. Strap a helmet on and suddenly they're the Mean and Gold.

PRETTY NASTY

"We do get pretty nasty out there,'' said linebacker Singor Mobley, making no apologies. "It is an aggressive style of defence. You could say it's smashmouth, across the board, from the corners all the way through the whole defence. We're going to beat the man that's in front of us and we're going to let him know, for four quarters, that he's in for a fight.''

With Maciocia at the helm, it's no coincidence that the defensive side of the room is filled with guys who feel the same way.

"That's one of the things that I like to bring to a team, and one of the reasons why coach Maciocia brought me in,'' said Montford. "A lot of guys on this defence play the same way, and a lot of guys feed off of that.''

You can't teach toughness, it's either in a player's character or it's not. And it's not about being an undisciplined yahoo, but rather hitting anything that moves, relentlessly, and knowing when to play the intimidation card.

"It's one of those fine lines,'' said Montford. "If they're second and 10 you don't want to give them a first down with a penalty, but at the same time, if you're down at their end of the field, and it's a tone setter, and the crowd goes wild, and it'll show everybody that your team means business ...''

Don't be surprised if someone takes the shot. "It's one of those things, kind of like pit bulls,'' said Montford. "You never know what lies underneath that skin, underneath our masks, and every now and then something jumps up and bites you.''

"We're competitive, and the personalities we have are those of an aggressive nature,'' added Davis Sanchez. "I think that's a good thing.''

Asked if he's concerned about a team that already leads the league in penalties losing its composure amid the animosity and hostility at McMahon Stadium, Maciocia says he isn't.

"We play with an attitude at times that's given us a little bit of a problem as far as penalties are concerned, but I'm not worried that they're going to get carried away with it because we've got a pretty good group. They're going to be cranked up on the other side, too, they're going to try and get after us.''

BAD ATTITUDES

Count on it. You don't win a game like Monday's without bad attitudes and the muscle to back them up. Edmonton's toughness will never be tested, or counted on, more than it will on Monday.

"It's a style of game,'' grinned Mobley, "Labour Day, when emotions are high and a lot of things are on the line, that fits right in with how we play.''


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