Bell tolls for Ricky

Veteran defensive back Ricky Bell's stay with the Eskimos this season was a short one. (Sun...

Veteran defensive back Ricky Bell's stay with the Eskimos this season was a short one. (Sun Media/Perry Mah)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:14 AM ET

No hard feelings.

Although he has been released by the Edmonton Eskimos before playing a single pre-season game, Ricky Bell isn't ripping the Green and Gold.

In fact, the six-year CFL veteran believes the Eskimos are looking good as they prepare for this season.

"They are just trying to build - get back to the dynasty that they were," said Bell from the Newark, New Jersey airport late yesterday afternoon.

"And from what I see they are definitely on the right track.

"They have all the tools that make up a good team. The offensive players are already there. Jacques Chapdelaine is one of the best offensive minds.

"On defence they have great speed, great coaches and it looks good."

But the Esks' plans don't include Bell at strong-side linebacker because Ray Perryman and Siddeeq Shabazz simply have more promise.

"We are happy with the guys we have lined up at SAM backer -Shabazz and Perryman," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia.

"They need to see as much action as possible. That is a position that requires someone to play with a lot of speed and Ricky is a veteran of many seasons here.

"I personally thought he wasn't as quick as the other two guys I mentioned.

"That is a position that requires you to run with people like Geroy Simon and Jason Tuckers of the world and still be physical enough to play the run."

At 33, Bell is five years older than Perryman and seven years older than Shabazz.

And Bell candidly admits he wasn't as good as Perryman.

"The stuff outside of the box, he was picking up on it more," said Bell.

"(Perryman) was making less mistakes that I was making.

"I wasn't as good of a player thinking on the run all the time - I just couldn't react like I was playing a halfback or corner position.

"I think he will be successful there."

While Bell did have some experience playing the strong-side linebacker position with Montreal, he is more known for being a defensive back.

He also carries a controversial past, bouncing around to five different teams.

But Maciocia denies there were any attitude issues.

"He wasn't a problem here one bit," said the coach.

The release definitely caught Perryman and Shabazz by surprise.

"It (Bell's release) is definitely good news for me ," said Perryman. "But I got to still keep working, still competing like he is still here because I want to solidify that job."

Perryman will be considered by many to be the leading candidate to break camp as the starter.

But Shabazz isn't conceding anything, especially with two pre-season games to come.

"I would never put anybody ahead of me," remarked Shabazz. "We are both headhunters - he is just a little louder than me."

CAMP CHATTER: Before camp started Bell was considered a key player because he could also be a veteran back-up in the secondary at the CFL minimum salary of $40,000. His release likely makes Shannon Garrett even more valuable. Battling to be a starting corner, Garrett can also be that veteran backup through the defensive backfield.

FINISH LINES: Don't be surprised if the Esks find at least one more body to try at the SAM linebacker position.


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