Gass left empty

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:34 AM ET

In the blunt opinion of Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia, his middle linebacker has been robbed.

The CFL West Division all-star team has been released and A.J. Gass is nowhere to be found.

The western members of the Football Reporters of Canada, along with the head coach of each team in the division, returned ballots earlier this week - and the majority felt Gass didn't deserve a spot on the roster.

"I think it is a joke," said a frustrated Maciocia.

"I'd have him at all three (linebacker positions).

"That is how well he has played for us."

Calgary's George White and John Grace, along with B.C.'s Otis Floyd are the three players on the squad.

White tied for the league lead in tackles during the regular season, with Grace sixth in that category.

Gass doesn't rank in the top 20 in tackles, but still has more than Floyd.

However, tackles are just part of Gass's game. He is recognized as being one of the sport's fiercest competitors and one of the leaders of the top run-defence in the league.

Not known to blow his own horn, Gass's teammates jumped to comment on the snub by voters.

"I think A.J. had his best year," said receiver Ed Hervey of the eight-year veteran.

"He is an all-star in this locker room.

"We wouldn't trade him for any other linebacker out there."

Receiver Jason Tucker and defensive backs Donny Brady and Malcolm Frank were the only Eskimos on the team.

SHORT YARDAGE: A Shannon Garrett-Nik Lewis rematch this weekend is a distinct possibility.

After straining a quad muscle in the second half last Sunday, Garrett was on the practice field yesterday and left his coach feeling hopeful.

Understandably, Garrett is hopeful he will be able to cut Lewis's production after the talented Stampeder receiver grabbed a game-high eight balls for 145 yards last Sunday.

But the veteran halfback doesn't want to hear anymore questions about Lewis.

"I am really sick and tired of hearing people coming and asking me about ... Nik Lewis," said Garrett.

"It wasn't what he did that won them the game (last Sunday). It's what coverages we blew that gave up the touchdowns.

"We will correct that ... and it will be a totally different game."

LATE HITS: Due to a soccer conflict at Clarke Park, the Eskimos are practising at Commonwealth Stadium to end the week. The team usually alternates between working on the field turf at Clarke and the grass practice field adjacent to Commonwealth, but the all-natural practice field has seen better days after a full season of wear and tear.


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