Blame us, says Hervey

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

Enough is enough.

After watching their quarterback Ricky Ray get booted and battered throughout this week by fans and the media for the team's dismal performance last weekend in Calgary, Ed Hervey and the rest of the Edmonton Eskimo receiving core have had enough.

"Get off of Ricky's back," said Hervey yesterday.

"We are the ones who catch touchdowns. We are the ones that have to get open for him."

And with that, the entire group of receivers has accepted responsibility for the offence's performance this Sunday in the West semifinal at McMahon Stadium in Calgary against the Stampeders.

'IT IS ON US'

"If he doesn't throw a touchdown (this Sunday) - it is on us," said Hervey.

"It is not on Ricky Ray.

"I am going to tell you right now, if you want to point the finger at anyone - we are going to take the responsibility this Sunday.

"If you want to point criticism, point criticism at Hervey, (Mookie) Mitchell, (Jason) Tucker, (Trevor) Gaylor, (Andrew) Nowacki and the rest of us."

Standing within a few feet of Hervey in the locker room yesterday morning, Tucker had the same message while trying to take the burning heat off his pivot.

"You can't blame the quarterback, all he does is throw the ball. He can't catch the ball. He can't run after the catch and score touchdowns," said Tucker.

"You have been criticizing (Ray for) not putting up touchdowns and all this. We are going to take it upon us to put up touchdowns this week."

The media and fans have been taking direct aim at Ray for failing to throw a TD in five games, for the offence struggling and for only finding the end zone once with a pass in the last 10 quarters against Calgary.

Some Eskimo faithful are also upset Ray doesn't show more emotion.

But that doesn't wash with his prime receiving targets. The shots Ray is taking are almost enough for Hervey to see red, like the colour of one of his eyes after being poked during a play last Sunday. "Right now it is simply unfair to criticize Ricky," continued Hervey.

"You can only kick a man so long when he is down.

"Some people take kindness for weakness.

"Some people have taken his quietness for weakness. He is an intense competitor. He has been out there taking licks all season ... and hung in there."

Added Mitchell: "Fans aren't seeing film and seeing the mistakes that guys are making on defence, special teams and even at our position."

Every single member of the starting four is singing from the same song sheet.

"We definitely feel we can play better," said Gaylor.

"Last week I didn't perform like I wanted to. I take that personally.

"Fortunately, we have an opportunity to avenge that loss."

And when the Eskimos take the field Sunday, Hervey vows it will be a different team than the group that had their lunch fed to them by the Stamps.

"If anyone thinks we are going to be the same team we were (last) Sunday," he said, "they are sadly mistaken."

HERVEY'S SERMON

Hervey's sermon-like address came with the perfect backdrop, as he stood in front of a new sign in his locker that read: You can roll with the punches ... or you can do the punching.

"The mindset will be different Sunday," he continued.

"Flat out, we didn't bring the emotion (last weekend) that we needed.

"I can guarantee you will see a different team. The loser has the green Hefty bag and loads his locker. The winner goes to B.C. and gets a chance to win the Grey Cup."


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