Every LaRose has its thorn

Promising Edmonton product J.R. LaRose could earn a starting spot at safety for the Esks against...

Promising Edmonton product J.R. LaRose could earn a starting spot at safety for the Esks against the Roughriders tomorrow -- a stern test for the 22-year-old. (Edmonton Sun/Jason Franson)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

For the Edmonton Eskimos, it's a waiting game.

For their fans, it's a guessing game.

Thanks to the new CFL roster rules, the Green and Gold can wait until 6:30 p.m. tomorrow - one hour prior to kickoff - to decide who will line up in their secondary to battle the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Commonwealth Stadium.

And at the moment, head coach Danny Maciocia has a few key decisions to make.

QUESTION MARKS

Who starts at cornerback? Will Malcolm Frank's right ankle be strong enough after hurting it in Vancouver last Friday or will the Esks be forced to shuffle bodies?

If the shuffle is required, several combinations in the secondary are possible, including Jonte Buhl - the regular safety - moving.

Will non-import veteran Kelly Wiltshire be healthy enough to start or will the job fall to young, inexperienced Edmonton native J.R. LaRose?

"We will see how (Malcolm) handles (today)," said Maciocia, who will get an update from his medical staff on Frank's ankle.

For the first time this week, Frank practised yesterday, but didn't participate in all drills.

Wiltshire, who suffered a hamstring injury last week, also saw his first action of the week in secondary formations yesterday, sharing time with LaRose on the first-string unit. But that doesn't mean he'll be ready come tomorrow night, either.

"We have got to see again (today)," said Wiltshire. "If I feel really sore (this morning), you know - we will figure it out."

But the savvy 10-year veteran maybe dropped a hint about his status for tomorrow by saying: "Does Batman fight crime?"

But the hard cold reality for the Eskimos is LaRose could be patrolling the middle of the field during Friday's game.

It would be a stiff test against a Saskatchewan Roughriders club that loves to challenge the safety.

"They definitely have some talented receivers - Jason Armstead and Matt Dominquez - and run a lot of different combinations that attack the safety compared to some other teams that really haven't attacked us up the middle," said LaRose, who has been spending extra time this week studying film.

Obviously, Maciocia doesn't know if LaRose is ready yet for the prime-time assignment, but he believes he has a 22-year-old with a heck of a future.

HUGE POTENTIAL

"He is going to be a very good football player," said the head coach. "He is one of those guys we are investing a lot of time in. He's going to go out there and make mistakes, but when he does make them he's going to make them at 100 miles per hour.

"You just can't get down on him. You need to believe in him and let him go because if you do so, he'll be patrolling centre field here in Edmonton for at least 10 years, in my opinion."

If LaRose does get the start, he'll be able to boast about being one of the rare aboriginals to become a starter in the CFL.

Unaware of anyone else with his background in the CFL today, LaRose wants to be a role model for aboriginal youth.

But without a doubt, LaRose has already become an idol in his own home with his two young children.

"I got two boys - my oldest is three and my youngest is seven months (today)," he explained. "You have to grow up quick (having children as a teenager), you can't be doing things that you once did as a teenager. You have to do more responsible things."

The Esks could ask LaRose to become very responsible on the field tomorrow.


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