Esks lack killer instinct

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

Staggering into the bye week, the Edmonton Eskimos have to develop a killer instinct.

There are a few key problems with this injury-depleted version of the Green and Gold, but this issue can't be ignored.

COLLAPSED

Including the latest example Saturday in Regina, the Esks have collapsed late in the game three times to squander wins this regular season.

"You got an opponent by the neck and you got to know when to finish him," said Edmonton linebacker Ray Perryman in the wee hours of Sunday morning after the Esks blew a 12-point first half lead and then a five-point lead after play resumed from the 58-minute weather delay.

"We have to learn as a team how to finish."

Edmonton's 39-32 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday showed perfectly that the Esks still have to learn a few other key lessons before Labour Day against Calgary - their next game.

In no particular order, Edmonton has to: a) learn how to run the ball better, b) become more consistent on offence, c) find a better return game and d) stop giving up the huge play on defence at the wrong time.

"It is extremely frustrating," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia yesterday.

"Any time you come into this type of environment (in Regina) and score 32 points, you should be OK to win football games.

"We scored a whole bunch early and weren't able to make plays later on."

Edmonton had just 32 rushing yards Saturday night, continuing a frustrating trend.

More importantly, the club continues to fail on short yardage.

Twice in the second half, the Esks couldn't convert on short-yardage runs at Mosaic Stadium, killing drives and momentum.

But quarterback Ricky Ray adamantly believes in this team, even though Edmonton is tied for last in the West Division with Calgary at seven points.

"We are definitely not where we want to be," said Ray. "But, we are a good football team.

"I really believe that.

"Most of the mistakes we are making are just us doing it to ourselves. It is not like we are just getting outplayed."

To be fair, this Eskimo squad aren't in as bad of shape as Hamilton (two points) or Toronto (four points) - and Edmonton has battled a horrific amount of injuries in the first half of the season.

PLENTY OF GRIT

Maciocia's crew also showed plenty of grit by hanging tough with the first-place Riders in front of a madhouse sold-out crowd in the Queen City.

But with NFL teams making their final cuts around Aug. 28 and CFL practice rosters about to expand, it's a no-brainer to expect some new faces in town.

The chance of seeing another punt/kick return specialist being air-lifted in for a tryout, though, is slim.

"I think we have one on this football team," said Maciocia.

"Lenny Williams led NFL Europe in returns - and you know, we still have Tony Tompkins. So, go back, take a look at the big picture and make a decision."

FINISH LINES: It's unclear who can re-join the Esks from the injured list for Labour Day (Sept. 3) - the next game on the schedule - but it's possible Dan Comiskey, Kevin Lefsrud, Jason Tucker, Tyler Ebell and Omarr Morgan could play.


Videos

Photos