R-E-D-E-M-P-T-I-O-N

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

The season of redemption starts today.

When the Edmonton Eskimos' latest crop of rookies step on the field this afternoon, the march toward the playoffs begins.

After missing the post- season for the first time in 35 years last season, there is no need for motivation for Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia.

"I wake up every single morning and as much as I don't live in the past, I don't want to forget about what happened," said Maciocia yesterday during the club's state of the franchise conference call with the national media.

"There is that burning desire to get back out there and show people that we are going to be a force to be reckoned with here.

"There is a lot of unfinished business.

"It has been a long off-season."

High-profiled veterans have been released and/or retired.

New faces are at key places on the field and on the sidelines.

But Maciocia is hoping many of the remaining veterans - A.J. Gass, Dan Comiskey, Ricky Ray, Mookie Mitchell, Jason Tucker - will have an unrelenting fire in them when the main training camp opens on Sunday.

"There is probably a lot of anger in each one of (those) names and I think that anger is what is going to drive us," continued Maciocia.

"I am looking forward to it."

Arguably the biggest off-season acquisition is new offensive co-ordinator Jacques Chapdelaine.

While the Esks are hoping he sparks the offence, he could also help Maciocia - in an indirect way - guide the rest of the club.

"I think at some point in time as we go along, as far as I am concerned, for the first time in probably three years I am actually going to be able to overlook the three facets of the game by handing over the offence to coach Chapdelaine," continued the head coach.

Overall, the club bolstered its entire assistant coaching staff with four new faces.

Maciocia won't come out and directly say that publicly, but he came very close yesterday.

"I am (a) firm believer that you are only as good as the people you surround yourself by and I think we have got some good, qualified coaches that have had a lot of success over the years," said Maciocia, who didn't retain Ron Lancaster Jr. or Dennis Winston from last year.

Now carrying the title of director of football operations, Maciocia has his handprints all over this team this year - meaning the pressure is high.

Everybody in the organization surely knows it.

"At the time (Maciocia received both titles) I told him he had the simplest job description in our organization: Win and stay on budget," commented team president Rick LeLacheur yesterday.

Striving to stay within the $4.05 million salary cap, the fun begins today.

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WHAT THEY SAID

The top quotes from yesterday's Eskimo national media conference call

"I support (the salary management system) as do our board of directors on the basis that we better have (a minimum of) eight teams to be able to play in this league for a long period of time. So, you have to make sure everybody is competitive."

Eskimo president Rick LeLacheur

"We are probably a year removed from having Sean Fleming retire."

Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia


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