Veteran jitters

QB Khari Jones knows that if he doesn't pull up his pants real quick, he could be cut from Esks'...

QB Khari Jones knows that if he doesn't pull up his pants real quick, he could be cut from Esks' training camp for the second straight year. Jones has an inflammation in his throwing arm. (Edmonton Sun/Walter Tychnowicz)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

The first thing any athlete wants after a tough outing is a shot at redemption, even if it's only in practice.

And quarterback Khari Jones wanted it as much as anyone after a lukewarm performance in the Edmonton Eskimos' pre-season loss to Regina.

But he has to wait.

With time running out in the battle for the backup job, Jones had to spend yesterday on the sidelines, resting an inflammation under his throwing arm.

Jones, who expects to be back in the pocket today, says the area simply reacted to an excessive amount of analgesic balm.

"It might have been from putting heat on it, oddly enough," he said. "Icy-Hot, Ben-Gay, that type of stuff. It's almost sad to say, but it's the truth. Just one of those things."

NOTHING SERIOUS

While the injury itself is nothing serious, any time off in the final week of training camp can be fatal to a player's chances. All he could do yesterday was watch the competition, Jason Johnson, take extra snaps.

"You don't want to miss any days," said Jones, who was just seven-for-14 for 38 yards in 23 minutes of work in the Regina loss. "But the doctor says you're out, you stay out for a day. But it's no big issue. There's nothing wrong with the shoulder, you'll see (today)."

The veteran pivot needs a strong showing in the final week of camp if he's going to edge out Johnson, who had a better night in Regina, but he's been around the game far too long to start worrying about the competition.

"I focus on me totally. That's all you can worry about," said the 35-year-old. "You don't think about the other stuff. You just try and do the best job you can on the field. I've been around long enough that I don't start counting (other quarterbacks)."

But he admits the Regina game wasn't his best work.

"It was definitely hit and miss. I looked at the film and there were definitely some things that needed to be improved upon. But it felt good overall, getting in there again, feeling what the offence is like. We just weren't able to get in sync as an offensive unit. That was the only frustrating thing. Things were there for us, but a little miss here and there ... in three-down football you just can't have that. You need to be a little sharper."

Jones has a big edge over Johnson in experience and would seem better suited to lead the team for a extended period if Ray got hurt, but he hasn't exactly grabbed the job by the laces.

"I just want him to come in and earn a job," said head coach Danny Maciocia, who doesn't place much stock in reputations or track records. "I'm not into veterans or rookie status. I'm into winning a job."

And is Jones winning one?

"I think he's doing OK," continued the coach, who isn't placing too much emphasis on the Regina game, which was a mess on all fronts offensively.

"I thought the execution was poor, at least offensively. You're always discouraged when you come out of a football game with no touchdowns.

"Khari did OK. At times our fullbacks let him down. We were supposed to block things a particular way up front, and they didn't hold on to their blocks long enough for him to start looking downfield."

TIME RUNNING OUT

There's only one pre-season game left, and Ray is playing half of it, so Jones doesn't have much time left to make his case.

"I've been practising well. Now it's just about going out and playing the game," he said. "That's my whole focus, making sure that I'm the best player that I can be. Then they make their decisions and you live with them, but I feel good. I feel like I've had a good camp and I'll just have to continue with that, come out next game and be ready."


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