Rookies hit the books

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Danny Maciocia's off-season was sweet with his Edmonton Eskimos revelling in Grey Cup championship glory.

But the time off was also short. The Esks head coach is back to business in a big way - the returning players reported for their medicals yesterday and the team's rookies gather for a camp today.

And while students around the city are getting ready for final exams, the first-year Eskimos are about to crack open the books and hunker down in a classroom setting.

The 30 or so players who will take part include imports coming from the NFL and Adam Braidwood, the Esks' first overall pick in the 2006 Canadian College Draft.

"The first couple of days it's really about getting educated to the CFL game," said Maciocia.

'CHALK TALK'

"A lot of it is just walking guys through some things. It's a lot of chalk talk and watching films so they can visualize their responsibilities on assignments. Just seeing it does a lot of good and hopefully all those things become something you don't have to cover again.

"You have to take the guys out and really show them how wide the field is and give them a start on seeing all the unlimited motion that a lot of them aren't used to. It's a good thing because it gives them a chance to get prepared so when they go against the vets they have one less thing to worry about.

"The vets can close their eyes in those meetings and know what they have to do. But they are huge for the new guys so they learn and they can let their athleticism take over and not have to worry about wondering where they should be lined up."

The players draw some significant benefits out of the sessions. So too does the coaching staff.

"Any opportunity you can take to see how players absorb and function with what you're teaching them is a great benefit," said Esks offensive line coach Bill Macdermott. "To me that's what a training camp is all about."

"It's great because it doesn't slow me down," added Maciocia. "We really have only about three weeks and two preseason games so I can't be tied up and fall behind in some areas because we're not moving on in others."

HOPEFUL BEARS

Along with the top picks from this year's draft, the Esks will have two other new recruits trying to shine during the camp - former University of Alberta Golden Bears standouts Jarred Winkel and Neil Ternovatsky. Winkel, a former Canada West conference MVP, will have a shot at cracking the lineup on special teams.

"He has to convince the special teams coach that we need him to stay and if he does that then there's no question we'll keep him," said Maciocia.

LATE HITS: The Eskimos made three additions to their defence yesterday. The trio all have NFL experience. Lineman Dorsett Davis spent three years with Denver after being the Broncos' third-round pink in 2002. Defensive back Roosevelt Williams was a third-round pick of the Chicago Bears in '02 and played 13 games in his rookie season before joining the Cleveland Browns and appearing in seven games in 2003. David Young, another defensive back, was originally drafted by Jacksonville but also had stints with Houston and the New York Jets.


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