Foundation work

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

There are several key building blocks underneath the rubble of broken and relatively useless parts in Eskimoland.

While Danny Maciocia is facing a monumental renovation project with the Edmonton Eskimos, these 23 players should remain and be the foundation for next year.

QB Ricky Ray: The only quarterback with a chance to eclipse 5,000 yards this year.

DE Adam Braidwood: Has potential dripping all over him. Could become a star attraction.

SB Jason Tucker: A top- three receiver in the league with a great attitude to match.

FB Mike Maurer: Edmonton's special teams player of the year. Has become the most reliable long snapper and still leads the club in special-teams tackles.

DT Robert Brown: The Esks' defensive MVP with 10 sacks - quietly third best in the league.

S J.R. LaRose: Edmonton's safety for the next six or seven years if he continues to develop at this pace. A great nose for the ball.

OG Dan Comiskey: A warrior in the trench who has no thought of retiring.

"You will have to cut the pads off me," said Comiskey.

DE Antico Dalton: He can play three starting positions - defensive end, linebacker and safety - on defence while contributing on special teams. In the CFL, players like Dalton are invaluable.

FB Mathieu Bertrand: Few players are as gritty or care more than Bertrand.

RB Troy Davis: Some critics want him gone because he's not as quick or shifty as Charles Roberts or Kenton Keith. But he could finish the year third in league rushing. Combine that with his blocking ability and he's too valuable to cut loose.

C Tim Bakker: Criticized as the offensive line suffered, the seven-year Canadian veteran can also play guard. It would be foolish to let him go.

LB A.J. Gass: Will soon be 31-years-old and a free agent, but he has a nasty streak and attitude that would be very tough to replace.

OT Joe McGrath: The Esks top lineman.

QB Steven Jyles: Seems to have the physical tools to be the eventual heir apparent to Ray. But can he read defences properly? That answer will come in time.

K/P Sean Fleming: At the moment, Fleming is the best option. A very accurate field goal kicker, his punting average would be near 44 yards if he wasn't consistently instructed to hit the sidelines.

RB Mike Bradley: The special-teams units were a major problem this year, but Bradley wasn't the cause. He will be in Edmonton for several years to come.

KR Tony Tompkins: A horrible year on the stats pages, but he had major problems in front of him. Giving up on a 23-year-old who had several touchdowns in 2005 would be wrong unless a bona-fide star returner can somehow be found.

S Jason Nugent: This year was a total write-off with knee problems. But this second-round pick could become a major player.

DB Roosevelt Williams: Wanting to come back in his option year, he showed major promise before getting hurt in Regina last month.

S Will Loftus: A veteran who understands the sense of urgency and what it takes to play at a high level, Loftus will help on special teams next year if he can stay healthy.

DB Jonte Buhl: Has impressed the coaches with his cover skills and willingness to put his body against big backs such as Ricky Williams.

OL Patrick Kabongo: There have been growing pains, but the coaching staff will stick with him next year.

WR Pat Woodcock: The fact he's Canadian and makes clutch grabs is a dynamite combination.

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The over-under line for deletions from the current Eskimo roster has unofficially been set at 15.

With insufficient talent on an aging team, the job security of many players for 2007 is in question.

Following is a list of Esks in limbo:

WR ED HERVEY

Upside: Still has legitimate speed and is a leader.

Downside: He'll be 34 next year.

LB SINGOR MOBLEY

Upside: Doesn't know the meaning of quit.

Downside: He's 34.

DT STEVE CHARBONNEAU

Upside: When healthy, he can dominate inside.

Downside: Nagging back problems for two years. Plus, he rarely stood out.

DT RANDY SPENCER

Upside: Canadian.

Downside: Can't stay healthy - a major problem.

DB KEYUO CRAVER

Upside: Labelled by the coaches as the best cover guy in the secondary in August.

Downside: Benched for three straight games, he was recently involved in a heated discussion with Maciocia at practice that he won't comment on.

SB MOOKIE MITCHELL

Upside: Very dependable hands.

Downside: Age and salary - will have to take a pay cut.

DB SHANNON GARRETT

Upside: Relentless determination with talent to keep playing.

Downside: The clocks hits 35 years in January.

DB DONALD BRADY

Upside: Still gets under the skin of top receivers like Geroy Simon and Nik Lewis. Downside: Already deemed expendable once this year.

LB GERALD DIXON

Upside: Should be better next season after a year learning the position.

Downside: Didn't come close to replacing Steven Marsh and the coaches want to improve at that position.

LB QUINCY STEWART

Upside: A full CFL season under his belt.

Downside: Didn't fill Gass' shoes.

OL RALEIGH ROUNDTREE

Upside: Has been solid since Labour Day.

Downside: Edmonton will surely be trying to improve the line, hurting Roundtree's job security.

OL RHETT MCLANE

Upside: Knows coach Bill Macdermott's system.

Downside: Hasn't become a starter in four years and could be expendable if there are quality recruits.

DE CHUCK ALSTON

Upside: Young, versatile.

Downside: A new stud lineman during the off-season could push him out.

FB DEITAN DUBUC

Upside: Has remarkable physical tools and Canadian.

Downside: Not as dominant as he should be, which is frustrating to the club.

LS TAYLOR INGLIS

Upside: Strong connection with Sean Fleming.

Downside: Will there be room for a single-purpose player next year?

QB JASON JOHNSON

Upside: Moved the team when he played this year.

Downside: Jyles seems more gifted.

FINISH LINES ...

Although there are no guarantees, players with one foot out the door already: Trevor Gaylor, Richard Alston, Andre Sommersell, Glen Carson and Malcolm Frank.


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