Esks shuffle coaching deck

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:24 AM ET

Big and bold nametags for the Edmonton Eskimos' coaching staff should be mandatory at this spring's training camp.

In a make-or-break year for head coach Danny Maciocia, he has decided to move forward with five new assistant coaches - meaning players and reporters are going to be seeing new faces all the way down the sidelines.

Mike Kelly (receivers), Ron Vinklarek (offensive line) and Don Wnek (defensive line) are the final three pieces for that staff after being introduced at the team's staff meeting yesterday.

They join previously announced newcomers A.J. Gass (defensive assistant) and Noel Thorpe (special teams).

"We don't have anyone who needs an education when it comes to the CFL game," said Maciocia, trying to put a positive spin on the latest coaching recruits.

"They have had success at the CFL level. It is not like you have to go through Year 1 with them and make sure they get an education. When we go to camp they can jump in and pick up where they left off."

Kelly left the CFL in 1996 after five seasons as the offensive co-ordinator in Winnipeg. Vinklarek has one CFL year on his resume - but it was 13 years ago in Birmingham as the O-line coach. Wnek has spent time with four CFL clubs - Hamilton, Memphis, Montreal and B.C. - but has been out of the league for six years.

All three coaches are coming from jobs at U.S. colleges.

The most intriguing is Kelly, who has spent the last three years away from coaching at Drexel University as a professor of sports management.

"I taught principles of coaching," said Kelly. "I taught graduate level leadership courses. It was fun but the adrenalin rush wasn't there.

"At some point you look in the mirror and say you are what you are. I am a football coach and that is what I needed to do."

Kelly's arrival means Eskimo receivers will likely be much more active at the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped.

"I don't know if you remember the names Gerald Wilcox and Gerald Alphin (in Winnipeg), but they had defenders going in opposite directions before they ever crossed the line of scrimmage," Kelly recalled. "I hope I can instil those same type of skills and ideals again into this receiving corps."

Kelly will be rather familiar with Vinklarek's offensive line schemes because they coached together at Valdosta State in 1997.

"I have coached (players) when they are in the seventh grade and I have coached them when they make millions," said Vinklarek, who has coached from junior high to the NFL. Vinklarek takes over a unit that gave up 52 sacks last year.

Wnek is also facing a challenge, inheriting a D-line that only recorded 39 sacks in 2007.


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