Esks seeing red

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

The big smiles will likely be everywhere at Clarke Park today during the pre-game walk through.

After 12 days of battling each other in training camp, the Edmonton Eskimos finally get to smack somebody else in the mouth tomorrow night in Calgary during the first pre-season game of the year.

"All off-season I have been waiting for (tomorrow) to come," said safety J.R. LaRose.

"And I am excited to go out there and hit somebody and try to make plays."

Known for delivering bone-crushing hits, LaRose admits it has been very tough not to paste a receiver in open field the past two weeks.

"I just try to hold in my frustration and let it all out (tomorrow)," he continued.

"I am going to cut loose (tomorrow)."

Head coach Danny Maciocia plans to bring every healthy body on the bus to Calgary, meaning key starters like Ricky Ray and Jason Tucker will see action.

But rookie linebacker Ray Perryman might be one of the most intriguing players to watch.

"I just woke up (yesterday) morning with a smile on my face, knowing we have a game (tomorrow) - and it is a rival," said Perryman.

"I am very pumped up for that.

"But I am just trying to stay mellow and humble and let it all explode on Friday.

"It is going to be something to see."

While the Calgary Stampeders will likely start new pivot Akili Smith, Maciocia hasn't decided who will get the ball for the opening series at quarterback.

"For a pre-season game, it is no big deal who starts and who finishes," continued Maciocia.

What is certain is that Steven Jyles and Stefan LeFors will get plenty of playing time because Ray will see more of the field in the second pre-season game to get his timing down with the offence.

As for running backs, the Esks will play Ron McClendon, Tyler Ebell and Philip Brock.

But Maciocia believes he will have to have a chat with McClendon before he sprints onto the McMahon Stadium turf because he will be so fired up.

"Probably I will have to have a conversation with him before we take the field (on Friday) to make sure he doesn't get too carried away," said the coach.

With veteran Josh Ranek on the shelf, this will be a golden opportunity for McClendon to take a strangle-hold on the starting job.

FINISH LINES: To no surprise, the defence will be missing some veteran presence because of injury. A.J. Gass and Robert Brown won't make the trip south. Mike Botterill, Warren Kean, Ryan Kelly and Tony Tella will also miss the game.


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