McInnes the Prince of Pain

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

It only looks like they're adding insult to injury.

In reality, the gruelling torture tests that most of the injured Eskimos are forced to endure every morning are for their own good.

And they know it. They don't have to like it, but they know it.

"I'm telling you, this is motivation to get healthy," said safety William Loftus, in full sweat after an hour-long session with free weights and an exercise bike. "We don't want to spend any more time with the Drill Sergeant than we have to. He must dream this stuff up every night."

The Drill Sergeant is strength and conditioning coach Ryan McInnes, who puts the walking wounded through their daily regimen. Yesterday they were run ragged with fast-paced free weight work in the hot sun, a few steps from the practice field, before moving to the stationary bikes.

"I've heard it referred to as boot camp," grinned McInnes, who's also worked with the Edmonton Oilers. "Guys don't like to be injured, so I guess it gives them a little incentive to get better quicker."

They're not trying to rush the recovery, only prepare the player for his return.

"Our goal is to keep their level of conditioning up so that when they get back on the field, they're not going to be behind. They're able to keep up and jump right back into the drills."

There's no such thing as sympathy for the injured, as the players have quickly discovered.

"Basically, whatever's not hurt, he's going to work it," said Loftus, recovering from a rotator cuff injury. "If you have one hurt muscle, he's going to work every other one."

"It's tough, but it's good for you," adds defensive lineman Randy Spencer, out with a calf injury. "It's hard standing on the sidelines doing all this extracurricular stuff when you want to be out on the field, but it's what you need to do to get back.

"It keeps everything up, your strength, your conditioning, so that when you do step back on the field, you're at the same pace as everyone else."

That still doesn't make it any fun.

"As much as guys don't like it, you have to keep their intensity up," said McInnes.

"Otherwise you're not helping anyone. But the bigger the group, the easier it is. I try to use their competitive nature, get them feeding and competing off each other, and the complaining seems to slow down."


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