Secondary to none

Life is looking better for the Eskimos secondary with newcomers Jason Goss, Omarr Morgan and...

Life is looking better for the Eskimos secondary with newcomers Jason Goss, Omarr Morgan and Stanford Samuels, who was in Edmonton yesterday. (Sun Media/Jason Franson)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:50 AM ET

Danny Maciocia is still haunted by last year.

The fact the Edmonton Eskimos missed the playoffs for the first time in 35 years sticks with the head coach every day.

"I wake up to it every morning," said Maciocia.

"I wake up, get in the car, and I say to myself a little reminder of what just took place, and why it happened, and how I am going to make it better today."

Coming off likely the best recruiting week of his Eskimo tenure, life is looking better in the secondary with newcomers Jason Goss, Omarr Morgan and Stanford Samuels.

In fact, Samuels did his best yesterday to calm any of Maciocia's remaining worries about the defensive backfield.

"We expect to be the best secondary (in the CFL)," Samuels said during his first public appearance in Edmonton. "Goss is a big-time playmaker."

Samuels also applauded young safety J.R. LaRose and other teammates.

"I know they're trying to build something special and I want to be part of it," he said.

A top-drawer secondary will also be a major help to the Eskimos' defensive line, which struggled to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks last year.

SAD SACKS

Only Hamilton and Toronto had fewer quarterback sacks last season.

"If you can buy those guys up front another half-second to a full second because you are covering real well in the back end, chances are you are probably going to get a few more hurries, knockdowns and sacks," said Maciocia. "But if you are not covering well, you can come untouched and the ball will still be delivered and delivered with success."

Excited about the returning front-line trio of Adam Braidwood, Brandon Guillory and Robert Brown, Maciocia will soon announce the signing of new D-line recruits.

And expect them to come to training camp with solid character qualities.

UGLY DISPUTE

Apparently not worried about Samuels's ugly name-calling dispute with Winnipeg Blue Bomber GM Brendan Taman last weekend, Maciocia is trying to improve the overall character in the locker-room.

"Probably with a few guys I was disappointed (last year) as far as the character issue," said Maciocia.

"I don't think we had the same character in 2006 that we had in 2005."

THREE ASSISTS: An interesting cast of characters indirectly assisted Maciocia in securing Samuels from the free-agent market.

Samuels has admitted that Troy Davis, Reggie Durden and Kwame Cavil had positive things to say about Edmonton and the Eskimos.

"It played a part (in signing with Edmonton) - everything adds up to the big picture," Samuels said.

Ironically, Cavil was shipped out of Edmonton, Durden left the club last year and Davis might not crack this year's roster.

SHORT HIT: Together on the Montreal Alouettes at the turn of the decade, Maciocia was thrilled to see Pierre Vercheval named to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame yesterday.

"Not only was he a tremendous football player, but he's a great human being," said Maciocia. "It couldn't happen to a nicer guy."

A former Eskimo, Vercheval goes into the Hall of Fame with Darren Flutie, an Eskimo in 1996 and 1997.


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