Eskimo veterans impressed

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

This story should come with a very clear warning: The Edmonton Eskimos haven't played a single pre-season game yet.

But even with that fact, there are several veteran Eskimos who are raving about what they are seeing through the first 11 days of training camp.

"I have never seen a group of guys this high of talent with this high of character," said seven-year CFL veteran Kevin Lefsrud.

"It is really quite eerie to see all these guys from all parts of North America come together and every single one of them is such a great guy.

"Usually, you come across some kind of jerk, but the biggest jerk in the crew might be me.

"That is pretty impressive.

"Everybody has bought in. Everybody knows what the vets are expecting and what the coaches are expecting and they are busting their (butts) to get it done."

Those are pretty impressive words.

However, Lefsrud is not alone in raving about the quality of players on the field at Clarke Park as the Esks prepare for their first pre-season game tomorrow night in Calgary.

"In training camp I feel we have more cohesiveness than we did at this point last year," said special teams ace Mike Bradley, who is a six-year Eskimo veteran.

"I think they did a really good job bringing the right people (in to town).

"This reminds me a lot of 2002, 2003 and even 2005 when we were stacked with talent."

"IT IS REALLY QUITE EERIE TO SEE ALL THESE GUYS FROM ALL PARTS OF NORTH AMERICA COME TOGETHER AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM IS SUCH A GREAT GUY.

USUALLY, YOU COME ACROSS SOME KIND OF JERK, BUT THE BIGGEST JERK IN THE CREW

MIGHT BE ME."

KEVIN LEFSRUD ON THE CAMARADERIE AT ESKIMOS CAMP

Of course, the Eskimos went to the Grey Cup every one of those years, winning two titles.

"There are not a lot of guys who are individual guys - like 'Look at me guys' - we have got a lot of guys who look like they want to come play, they want to come to work," added Bradley.

"That is what counts down the stretch.

"If you can get the team to gel and come together, that is going to help win a lot of games."

Nobody is going to come out and name the bad-apple character players who have left town or have changed their ways.

Wanting redemption from last year's failure is obviously part of the reason why this crew looks better.

Bringing in new faces like Ray Perryman, Tyler Ebell, Omarr Morgan, Jason Goss and Stanford Samuels is another reason.

"The talent level is unbelievable," continued Lefsrud.

"Usually you see a fall off between the first group and the second group and the third group is lower.

"But you are watching film and you don't know if you are watching the first group or the second group or what."

Quicker, younger and hungrier equals a solid recipe.

Whether the team can put it together on the field against real competition is another story.

But Ron McClendon is sure happy he isn't in Danny Maciocia's shoes, knowing cut down day is looming.

"Oh, no," he said in his animated way, pointing out he doesn't envy the coaching staff's position.

"There is a lot more depth in each position (this year).

"It is really like an NFL camp because everyone here is a really good athlete."


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