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JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

A meagre running attack.

A spotty short-yardage game.

And an apparent lack of explosiveness in the deep-passing department.

It's not a pretty picture for the Edmonton Eskimo offence these days - but don't expect to see any major personnel changes for Friday's crucial home game against Saskatchewan.

It appears Troy Davis will continue to be the starting running back, the offensive line will remain intact and there likely won't be any changes in the receiving core.

Instead, the motto this week in the Green and Gold's Commonwealth Stadium compound seems to be: collectively, we need to do better.

FROM THE BEGINNING

"There is only one thing you can do: go back to work and take it from the beginning," said head coach Danny Maciocia. "We need to get our quarterback time to throw the ball downfield.

"We have got to convert second and short.

"We need to be more productive on first down. And, we have to make the right reads downfield."

Against the B.C. Lions last Friday, Davis had just 45 yards on 12 carries for a 3.8-yard average.

On short-yardage situations, the Esks failed twice in the first half near midfield forcing Sean Fleming to punt.

And Ray's longest pass-and-run play was 24 yards.

"I think everybody can be better," said the highest-paid pivot in the league.

And Maciocia - like Ray - still believes they have the right ingredients in the offensive package to be explosive vertically and connect on the big, momentum-swinging play.

STILL HAVE THE GUYS

"I think we still have the guys that we can get it done with," said Maciocia. "Mookie (Mitchell) is still coming off a hamstring (injury) and it is not 100%. He's not really running the way he was earlier in the season.

"We have to get the ball vertically downfield to Ed (Hervey), but that is not always easy for us to do."

There's a combination of reasons for the lack of a deep vertical game, according to the coach.

"Sometimes the quarterback is not getting time to throw the ball," said Maciocia.

"Sometimes they are playing us over the top, meaning (the defenders) are being told to get as deep as the deepest receiver.

"When they start taking that stuff away, you have to start being patient and settle the ball underneath.

SUPPORT THE RUN

"And another way you can get (the defenders) to move up is getting your running game going and forcing those defensive backs to support the run, which right now, they don't have to do."

Maciocia might try a different tactic with his game planning this week to kick-start the run game, which is only ahead of Toronto - a team decimated by injuries - on the stat sheets.

"Maybe we're just going to carry a couple of running plays - a couple that we are comfortable with," said the coach.

The leader of the offensive line definitely knows he bears some of the responsibility to improve the frustrating trend.

"I had a poor performance on a personal level (last game)," said guard Dan Comiskey. "To me, that is a great motivation to get ready for this week."

SHORT HITS: Although former regular long-snapper Taylor Inglis was back at practice yesterday, Mike Maurer continued to snap on field-goal drills and with the first-string punt team. Inglis snapped with the second-string punt squad ... Linebacker A.J. Gass didn't practise yesterday, apparently still bothered by his hamstring injury ... Raw rookie non-import Jermaine Lee - who hasn't played a game this year - could be activated to special teams duty this week. With Will Loftus and Kelly Wiltshire nursing injuries, Lee worked on the first-string kickoff return unit yesterday, receiving tutoring from assistant Malvin Hunter.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Maciocia on the optics of releasing Joe Montford in the off-season, signing him in early July and cutting him on the weekend: "We wanted to try to do something as far as maybe provide a spark to the football team (when we signed him in July). Clearly it didn't work."

SIDELINES: Former Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach Greg Marshall is expected to be announced as the new offensive co-ordinator of the University of Western Ontario Mustangs today. Sources say he will likely fill that position for one season before moving up to be the head coach.


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