Games on the line

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

It's a dress rehearsal - but that doesn't mean there aren't some critical job interviews taking place.

For the most part, the Edmonton Eskimos have their roster set for the start of the 2007 regular season next week.

However, there are at least 10 players sitting on the bubble coming into tonight's final pre-season game against the B.C. Lions.

With the cutdown deadline on Saturday, here are the positions and players to watch at Commonwealth Stadium this evening.

IMPORT RECEIVER

At the most, the Eskimos will keep four imports at this position.

Jason Tucker owns one position. Trevor Gaylor has another all but locked up. That leaves 11-year CFL veteran Mookie Mitchell, rookie Fred Stamps and newcomer T.J. Acree fighting for the last two - or maybe even one spot.

"I am just going to go out (tonight) and do what I have been doing my whole career - just competing," said Mitchell yesterday.

"There is only so much a player can control."

Mitchell took a pay cut in the hope of staying with the team. But out of his control on the field is the number on his birth certificate - he's 35 years old.

In comparison, Stamps is 25, Acree is 24.

Making matters more difficult for Maciocia is that Mitchell is still as sure-handed today as he was during the third-and-four gamble the club took in the 2005 Grey Cup game that Mitchell converted.

LINEBACKER

Edmonton will likely keep four import linebackers on the active roster. With Antico Dalton, Siddeeq Shabazz and Ray Perryman holding three of those, it comes down to third-year veteran Marcus Winn and rookie Kenny Onatolu.

With no veteran presence in the linebacking core, Winn might hold a slight edge right now.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

While Robert Brown has one spot, the Esks will be forced to start an import at the other. Unlike last year with Steve Charbonneau and Randy Spencer, the Esks don't have the luxury of placing a non-import in the middle of the line.

With some smart roster moves, the club might be able to keep two of the following three: Jabari Issa, Chuck Alston and Ron Warner.

Issa would appear to have the inside track with Alston providing the versatility to also play rush end.

But Warner - the elder statesman of the group at 31 - is confident heading into tonight.

"I was traded over here - the defence wasn't up to par last season - and what I bring to the line is tenacity," said Warner.

"I think they are looking for something new."

FULLBACK

Edmonton native Jarred Winkel is facing a tough, uphill climb to stay with the club for a second year.

On one hand he can be a reserve at fullback and tailback, but the emergence of Calvin McCarty on special teams could spell the end of Winkel.

OFFENSIVE LINE

The Esks will start the year with an non-import offensive line with Raleigh Roundtree likely filling one of four reserve spots on the 46-man roster.

That leaves Rhett McLane and Tim O'Neill fighting for the sixth-man position.

Give the nod to McLane entering tonight.


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