Vintage Joe

Edmonton Eskimos' Joe Montford (right) pressures Calgary Stampeders QB Henry Burris during CFL...

Edmonton Eskimos' Joe Montford (right) pressures Calgary Stampeders QB Henry Burris during CFL action last season. Montford will play his first game of 2006 on Friday. (Edmonton Sun File/Darryl Dyck)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

Danny Maciocia rarely tips his hand early in the week - but Joe Montford made him break that rule with one fantastic practice yesterday.

Although he hasn't played a single down of football since winning the Grey Cup last year and has only been on the practice field for two hours this year, the Edmonton Eskimos head coach has publicly declared Montford will play Friday night against the B.C. Lions.

MONTFORD WILL START

In fact, the 35-year-old future hall of famer - who was just re-signed Monday by the struggling Esks - will start at defensive end.

"Obviously, he's in terrific shape," said Maciocia.

"You saw glimpses of (the trademark) Joe today just watching him work."

When he wasn't exploding off the line of scrimmage and making life difficult for tackle Patrick Kabongo, Montford was sprinting into the backfield or running across the field chasing the ball carrier.

It was a very impressive display for a first practice in seven months.

"As far as running around, I felt really, really good," said Montford.

"I still need to get my legs like I want. There were certain times that I felt I should have made a move - and I need to get that back."

But Montford - the Esks' defensive MVP in 2005 - will still be an upgrade on the defensive line in his current shape.

And his bookend on the line Friday will very likely be rookie Andre Sommersell, meaning sophomore Chuck Alston will lose his starting position, but remain on special teams.

However, that didn't stop Montford from offering Alston pointers during practice.

In fact, Montford's teaching skills are still in fine shape, just like his motor.

The 11-year CFL veteran yelled encouragement and offered tips to several players during yesterday's practice, making a seamless transition to the same role he has held for years.

"It's not good enough for me to go out there and be successful," Montford explained. "It's about my D-line and the rest of the defence."

D-LINE IS CFL'S WEAK SISTER

Edmonton's D-line has become the weak sister of the CFL, rarely applying major pressure on the quarterback.

With just three sacks, they're last in the eight-team loop.

But not surprisingly, Montford believes that can be turned around rather quickly.

"We got the talent," he said.

"It's just - let's go in the right direction.

"(And with) small adjustments we can be one of the dominant D-lines in the league."

And to set an example, the sack master has already been in the film room this week.

"I looked at the film and they got two rookie tackles in B.C.," said Montford.

"And I am going to stay some more (in the film room) so I can get the book on them and their tendencies."


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