Coaches, players 'feeling it'

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

Fans calling the open-line shows have already laid down their verdicts.

And Esks head coach Danny Maciocia continues to be the No. 1 target of their wrath.

Maciocia still hasn't got to the point where he's begging to be put out of his misery and last week articulated the fact he understands that there is a lot of pressure on him.

"More from some than others," he said with a nervous smile.

Times have been tough since the Eskimos won the 2005 Grey Cup.

Since then, the team has posted a 12-24 record and has won just four road games.

Without injured quarterback Ricky Ray in the lineup, the team lost six straight games to end the 2006 regular season. With him in the lineup, the losing streak has stretched to seven.

The players understand that the heat is mounting with each loss.

"We're all aware of the pressure that's on us and when you're not doing that well, changes will be made," said Ray. "That's just part of the business. You're a professional athlete. You're being paid to go out there and perform. If you're not performing to the standards, things are going to be changed.

"Not only are the coaches feeling it, but the players are feeling it, too."

RUNNING ON EMPTY?: WHETHER IT WAS THE INJURY TO DAN COMISKEY OR THE WAY RICKY RAY WAS HURLING THE BALL, THE FACT REMAINS THE ESKIMOS RUNNING GAME DID NOT GET MUCH TRACTION AGAINST SASKATCHEWAN.

Damien Anderson produced 45 of the 59 yards along the ground, averaging just under 3.8 yards per carry.

"When we tried to run the football and average five to 5.5 yards, we weren't able to do so in the second half," said Maciocia. "We're going to have to get better in that area also because we just can't always drop back and throw it."

Anderson averaged 5.2 yards per carry last season.

Anderson, who arrived here late last season and earned the starting feature running back job in camp, remains confident he can pick it up from last season.

"It's a matter of having faith and believing in yourself," said Anderson. "We have the talent. Coach puts us in the right situations, that's going to be the difference in setting us up from being an average team to a Grey Cup team. Those teams score in the end zone and we can't just be satisfied with field goals."

Anderson understands that Ray's passing game was on and that limited his touches.

"Ricky's the man," said Anderson. "At running back, you feel as though you're competent. You want the ball, but you understand that there's a structure, a method to the coach's madness. If he wants me to pass protect, I'll pass protect. If he wants me to catch the ball, I'll catch the ball.

"I'm a team player. Of course, I want the ball, but my goal week in and week out is to get better."

HITTING THE LINKS: Esks kicker Noel Prefontaine is an avid golfer who's already found time to get in five rounds around the Edmonton area.

"There's a lot of similarities between golf and football," Prefontaine said.

EXTRA POINTS: The Eskimos have added linebacker Trey Young to their practice roster. Young has spent his first three CFL seasons with Calgary and was released by the Stampeders at the end of training camp.


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