No giving up

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

Hope is not lost.

While some fans have already written off the rest of the Edmonton Eskimos' season because of Ricky Ray's separated shoulder injury, the veterans on the club are not giving up hope.

"We are going to make the playoffs," said offensive lineman Joe McGrath after last night's 18-11 loss to the Toronto Argos.

"Quarterbacks get hurt, running backs get hurt, offensive linemen get hurt. Nobody is going to be healthy all year.

"It is a great opportunity for Stefan (LeFors) and (Steve) Jyles to go out there and do it."

Ray separated his throwing shoulder with 6:22 left in the second quarter last night.

The highest paid player in the CFL with an estimated $450,000 salary, Ray is unquestionably the team's most valuable player.

But it took just minutes after last night's game for players to show that faith is still strong in the locker-room, even though Edmonton is now one point out of a playoff position.

"The season is not completely over," said linebacker A.J. Gass.

"It doesn't matter who we have at quarterback - we can win football games.

"It just puts a little bit more pressure on the guys up front and the receivers to get open and the running backs to run a little bit harder.

"One guy doesn't make or break the team.

"I think Stefan has some good experience now."

LeFors is clearly the Esks' No. 1 option at pivot for the foreseeable future.

While there is confidence in the rookie, the defence realizes they have to step up their game.

"Defence wins championships," said veteran safety Will Loftus.

"Defence keeps us in games.

"You got to believe in each other, you can't give up."

Added defensive end Adam Braidwood: "We are going to have to get some turnovers and special teams get good field position.

"I got a lot of confidence in Stefan. He is a good player. He has got a good arm. It's going to be on his shoulders a little bit, but as a defence, we have to step it up."

NOTES:MATHIEU BERTRAND ALSO SUSTAINED A FOOT INJURY THAT COULD KEEP HIM OUT AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME.


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