Can you spare a room?

Eskimos defensive back Stanford Samuels would like a place to call home. (Sun Media/Brendon Dlouhy)

Eskimos defensive back Stanford Samuels would like a place to call home. (Sun Media/Brendon Dlouhy)

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:58 AM ET

Anybody want to adopt an Eskimo?

It's one thing to have missed the playoffs for the first time in 35 years.

But to start the next season with 20 homeless?

The first Eskimos crisis of the new season is the Edmonton housing crisis.

"It's tough to find a spot," said new defensive back Stanford Samuels.

"It's not just one of us, it's everybody," said new linebacker Siddeeq Shabazz.

"I guess it's a reality in Edmonton. I don't have anything yet," said new defensive lineman Michael Jean-Louis. "A few of us were looking for something on the LRT line but we checked from the U of A all the way to the north end of the line and couldn't find anything. We're all glad to be here. It's a great opportunity for all of us at the same time. But we need a place to stay."

The Eskimos open at home with a line-up of 20 new players who don't have a home.

"Our season was moved back this year so our players couldn't get involved in the lineup for June 1," said Dave Jamieson of the traditional turnover date for apartments in Edmonton.

"They're all having to go out and scramble. We're working with landlords and there's even some discussion to get players billeted."

INTERESTING DAY

It was all part of a very interesting day yesterday as the cuts were complete and the 2007 Eskimos took the field together.

The photographer was late to take a picture of all the new guys. But there was no moaning and groaning, whining or complaining while they waited.

Indeed, most of them cavorted around with great grins on their faces and excitement and anticipation in their body language.

It's not until you put them all in a photograph like that, or circle all the names of new starters on the depth chart - a dozen of them in all including eight on defence - that you completely comprehend just how much change has actually happened here.

"I haven't even counted the number," said head coach Danny Maciocia.

"It is what it is. We knew we were going to have a lot of new faces. Here we are."

There's something fabulously refreshing about being around players who have no clue where they're going to live but can't wait to live every second of what's ahead of them.

Logic tells you that many changes won't translate into instant success, but there's such an up mood around the newcomers on this team going into Thursday's opener here against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, it was fun to be around them yesterday.

One of the new guys, major off-season acquisition Omarr Morgan, says this is his second time in this situation and it looks a a whole lot better than his first.

"In 2000 when I was a rookie in Saskatchewan, we had nine new starters on defence. There's a lot more experience and talent with this group. This is a great group. It's a great environment to be around."

OLD NEW FACES

With Morgan and Rahim Abdullah both veterans, maybe they shouldn't count in the "new" numbers.

With rookie linebackers Ray Perryman and Shabazz joining Antico Dalton, who is new to the middle linebacker position, Ron Warner on the defensive line, and Jason Goss and Samuels in the secondary ... scary.

On the other hand, the Eskimos ranked seventh in the league on defence last year.

"Maybe that's why we've got eight new starters" said Maciocia.

"They're going to make mistakes. But, you know what? They're going to make them at 100 miles an hour."

Last year, it was like the defence was waiting back for bad things to happen to them.

"You can't ask a guy to give you $100 when he only has $50 in his pocket. These guys here all have $100 in their pockets.

"Last year if you asked guys to get after people, they were getting there late and exposing themselves on the back end.

"Obviously we have zero experience in our linebacker group. That's a concern. But I know they'll be flying around into plays and maybe when they make a mistake instead of it costing us 10 yards it'll only cost us six or seven.

"They're going to be all over the place covering a lot of real estate. And we're going to be crossing our fingers."

On offence, maybe Kevin Lefsrud, who took last year off, shouldn't count as a new starter.

But you still have Tyler Ebell at running back, with T.J. Acree and Fred Stamps sharing a slotback spot and Kamau Peterson at wide receiver.

"There are just so many questions. I have the same questions you guys are asking," said Maciocia. "But I'm excited. I like the group. I like the group a lot. I can't wait to watch these people play."

In the meantime, maybe he should put up a big tent in his back yard and invite all his new guys to stay with him.


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