Seven sent packing

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos are doing a nice job of building suspense.

The axe fell yesterday with seven players being cut - including CFL veterans Josh Ranek, Marcus Winn and Jabari Issa - but the bigger news is to come.

With a few more cuts expected today, what is head coach Danny Maciocia going to do?

The import receiver position still isn't set. CFL legend Mookie Mitchell is still in camp, along with T.J. Acree and Fred Stamps - but just two roster spots are likely available.

Can Maciocia keep rookie Tyler Ebell on the active roster? What about the status of several injured Canadians, like Mike Maurer (knee), Pat Woodcock (infected foot), Mike Botterill (undisclosed), Deitan Dubuc (foot), Mike Bradley (finger)?

Will they be ready for Thursday's regular-season opener against Winnipeg?

Maciocia must declare his 46-man roster by 10 p.m. tonight, along with a seven-man practice roster and injured lists.

Many key decisions are still up in the air because the easy ones were made yesterday.

Besides the veterans, the club released four rookies: DE Mike Murphy, DE Russel Rabe, WR Kendrick Starling and K Kody Bliss.

Cutting Ranek - the biggest name on the list - isn't a surprise.

Battling a hamstring injury for almost all of camp, the running back never had a chance to compete against Ron McClendon.

"I need a few days to collect my thoughts and talk to my family," Ranek said late yesterday afternoon.

But the 29-year-old has to be wondering if his CFL career is over.

After giving Issa - a four-year veteran - every opportunity in camp, the Esks decided to keep Rob Brown, Chuck Alston and Ron Warner at defensive tackle.

"It is tough," said Alston, who was roommates with Issa last year. "I'll probably go by the house and talk to him a little more."

After watching Kenny Onatolu dominate at times on special teams in the pre-season, releasing linebacker Winn was expected.

"We were really impressed with No. 44 - Kenny O," said Maciocia. "This is two games that he has been able to do some great things for us."

By cutting Rabe and Murphy, Edmonton will start the regular-season with Adam Braidwood and Rahim Abdullah as starting defensive ends, with Kenny Hollis as a potential backup.

While Maciocia refuses to give an exact number of cuts still to come, there could be three or four today.

The club could also decide to stick several players on one-game injured lists and keep extra bodies around town, but that also eats into the salary cap.

With the $4.05-million cap supposedly being enforced this year, players on regular injured lists count toward the bottom line.


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