Band-Aid Bowl

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

REGINA -- Welcome to the Band-Aid Bowl.

Injury plagued and using Band-Aids to cover several major holes, both the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Edmonton Eskimos will limp - rather significantly - into tonight's tilt at Mosaic Stadium.

The Eskimos' injury woes for this game have been well documented.

But the Saskatchewan Roughriders might be in worse shape. In fact, Rider head coach Kent Austin claims they are.

"Nobody is more banged up than we are," said Austin yesterday. "The difference is that we don't talk about it.

"If you look at the league and the total man hours lost for players injured, we are No. 1 in the league - and it is not close, actually. Our players across the board at all positions at all levels understand that when they take the field they need to play at a level that is worthy for them to wear the uniform and to give us a chance to win."

The Riders have a stunning 16 players on injury lists this week, including the latest key addition - offensive tackle Gene Makowsky. The all-star offensive tackle - who was the CFL's top lineman in 2005 and 2004 - has mononucleosis. He is out until September - at least.

The Riders are going to try to fill that void with Wayne Smith at tackle and Val St. Germain playing guard. This will mark the first time Makowsky has missed a regular-season game since 1998 - a string of 165 straight games until now.

"Gene is a quiet leader on the football field," said Austin.

"He is an outstanding player. He has won his awards for a reason. His presence is a calming influence (for our team) on the field. But we don't have him.

"So, we line up and play the football game. And the guys that play we expect to play well enough for us to win."

The first-place Riders will be missing nine starters. That list includes defensive captain Eddie Davis, defensive end Terrell Jurineack, outstanding youngster Kyle Mitchell and Marcus Adams, who is tied for the team lead in sacks.

A win for the Eskimos would be a massive boost heading into the bye week.

In fact, it would put the club above .500 at 4-3-1 - which wouldn't be too shabby considering all of the adversity.

"It would be huge for us," said Edmonton middle linebacker A.J. Gass.


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