Esks feast on the East

JASON HILLS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:26 PM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos couldn't seem to beat a team from the East last season, but this year, it seems those are the only ones they can.

As the Esks prepare for a second straight back-to-back series against an an East Division opponent, they're hoping the success continues the next two weeks against the Toronto Argonauts.

LUCK CHANGING?

"The last little while we haven't played well against them, but we didn't play well against any teams last year in the East, hopefully our luck is changing," said Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia.

Edmonton's record last season against the East was a dismal 1-7. This year through five games, it's 4-0-1.

The next two weeks could be more challenging. The Argos always seem to play the Eskimos tough. In their last six meetings the Esks have only managed one victory, and that came in 2005 in Toronto.

The Argos defence is one of the best in the league, led by their front three of Jonathan Brown, Adriano Belli and Riall Johnson. Brown and Johnson lead the Argos in sacks with nine and eight respectively.

"They are a pretty good group defensively and they have been together awhile. They are much better (stopping the run) this year," said Maciocia.

"Last year they were giving up 136 yards a game and this year they are in the top three or four in the league.

" Versus the pass, they've been good for a number of years and they don't give up much. They have addressed the issues they had at stopping the run."

Running the ball rests on the shoulders of Eskimos running back Tyler Ebell.

He'll be facing a team that held the CFL's No. 2 leading rusher, Winnipeg's Charles Roberts, to just seven yards last week.

"They run a three man front defence and I think there could be some lanes there," said Ebell. "I think me and Charles Roberts have two different styles. He's a good back, but I am a different runner than him."

The Eskimos have averaged just 70.2 yards per game on the ground this season.

The Argos have been one team that has given quarterback Ricky Ray fits over the years. Their strong pass defence limits Ray's ability to really stretch the defence for a big play down field.

"They've got a very good defence and they have guys that have been playing in that system a long time and they are very comfortable," said Ray.

"Offensively it's going to be a challenge; we need to be better than we were last week.

"We can't sit back, we have to try and challenge them with the pass, but if we can run the ball efficiently and get four or five yards per carry, we should have success."

INJURY NOTES: Eskimos defensive back Stanford Samuels practised yesterday for the first time after recovering from a concussion. He will practice today and if he's free of symptoms, he will play tomorrow night.

'AGGRAVATING'

"It's aggravating to sit on the sidelines and seeing the way our defence has played the last two games, makes you really want to be a part of it," said Samuels.

Wide receiver T.J. Acree will sit out this week due to complications with his plantar fasciitis, he could be out of the lineup for the next three to four weeks.

Defensive tackle Robert Brown sat out the second straight practice and he won't be in the lineup. Charles Alston will take his place.


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