Esks dress for success

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

Call it a final dress rehearsal.

With the regular season opener exactly one week away, the Edmonton Eskimos get their last pre-season tune up tonight against the B.C. Lions.

And quarterback Ricky Ray - who will likely play at least all of the first half - has a message for the entire club: "We definitely have to come out and play better," he said yesterday morning.

Truer words haven't been spoken after the Calgary Stampeders ran over the Esks 28-3 last Friday in the pre-season opener.

The good news for Edmonton: that game in Cowtown was loaded with young, inexperienced players.

The even better news for Edmonton: the regular veterans will be more front and centre tonight.

But still, the play on the field has to improve.

"Whether it is a pre-season game or a scrimmage or a practice, we've got to come out with intensity and show that you are capable of making some plays, moving the football.

"The bottom line is we just didn't do it last pre-season game," continued Ray.

When the first-team offensive line and Ray were together last Friday for all of eight plays, the team moved the ball quickly and effectively.

Unfortunately for Ray and Co. tonight, No. 1 running back Ron McClendon will miss the final rehearsal.

But Ray doesn't seem too concerned that rookie Tyler Ebell will be the main ball carrier.

"He played pretty well last pre-season game," said the No. 1 quarterback on Ebell.

"I am not worried about that.

"I think he can do a good job running the football and catching it out of the backfield for us."

LATE HIT: The Eskimos' roster picture will become a little more cloudy if Ebell excels on punt/kick returns tonight.

Not given a chance to show off his return skills last week, the depth chart shows the rookie running back will get that chance against the Leos.

If he shines, he suddenly becomes more versatile than fellow import Tony Tompkins.

FINISH LINES: A soccer game and rain this week has combined to make the Commonwealth Stadium grass field less than perfect.

"It looks beat up a bit," said Eskimos president Rick LeLacheur yesterday.

"If we get some heat, it will grow some."

Unfortunately, there is a chance for both sun and rain today.


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