Special assignment

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

TORONTO -- Danny Maciocia might be trying to get the pressure off his new starting quarterback Stefan LeFors.

Or the Edmonton Eskimos head coach is just making a rather bold prediction for this afternoon's critical game against the Toronto Argos.

After the media has spent the whole week talking about LeFors taking over the reins from injured Ricky Ray, Maciocia believes today's tilt could easily be determined by another area of his team.

"I get the distinct feeling that this game could play itself out on (special) teams," he said in the spacious lobby of an upscale downtown Toronto hotel yesterday afternoon.

"(Special teams are) going to be huge.

"We spend a lot of time on it every single week. There is even a bigger emphasis on it this week."

If the Eskimos can win the field position battle on special teams - through limiting Toronto returns and breaking Tony Tompkins free - LeFors could produce points with a shorter field.

Edmonton has not scored an offensive touchdown in two straight games.

In fact, the club hasn't scored a major in any fashion - from special teams or defensively - in two games.

In desperate need of getting on a roll to make the playoffs - Edmonton is two points below the final playoff spot in the East Division and three points shy of the West's last post-season berth - any spark from the special teams unit would be much appreciated.

Stopping Toronto's return game will not be easy, though, with Dominique Dorsey practically flying high with confidence.

The reigning CFL special teams player of the month, Dorsey had two touchdown returns in September.

But if the Edmonton defence can suddenly find a way to produce an all-around dominating effort that will also help with the field position battle.

Struggling to stop big plays and long drives, the Eskimo coaching staff is trying a new tactic this week by switching halfbacks Stanford Samuels and Jason Goss.

Samuels will now go head-to-head against top Argo receiver Arland Bruce.

"I think he is one of the best receivers in the CFL, if he is not the best," said Maciocia on Bruce. "What makes him dangerous is after he catches the ball.

"I think he is the closest I have seen that you can compare to Terry Vaughn.

"He makes people miss. He can bounce off of people."

Added Samuels: "By shutting (Bruce) down and if we get the running game stopped, we can pretty much do a lot of damage to their offence."

The running game has been a pain in the backside to the Eskimo defence all year.

Still last in the entire league in stopping the run, Edmonton gave up 112 yards to Robert Edwards last week.


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