Special disasters

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

Will the Edmonton Eskimos special teams unit learn from their ugly mistakes?

That is the most important question facing this team as it enters the bye-week after a brutal outing during Friday's loss to the B.C. Lions.

Mistakes by the Green and Gold on special teams - a blocked punt, a fumble on a punt return and a long kickoff return against - led to three B.C. touchdowns during the 40-34 defeat.

It marked the first time this year the Edmonton special teams group fell on its face.

"It was a frustrating night," said Edmonton special teams coach Noel Thorpe.

"Did they give us anything that we weren't prepared for? No.

"We didn't execute."

Rookie Tristan Jackson -who started the year in incredible fashion with two returns for touchdowns - had his worst outing as an Eskimo.

And to no surprise, the personable youngster took full responsibility for two fumbles.

The first came on a first-half punt return when he simply dropped the ball at waist level, giving it right to the Lions.

That eventually led to a Jason Clermont touchdown.

"It was just a bonehead play," said Jackson.

"It was all my fault.

"I wasn't concentrating. I tried to pick it up and run too fast."

The other fumble - which didn't cost Edmonton any points but wasted time on the clock - came when Jackson made the wrong decision to run the ball out of the end zone on a missed field goal return.

He fumbled at the four-yard line.

"I really didn't get the full call," said Jackson, alluding to the fact he was supposed to give up a single point but missed the call.

"It was all on me, too."

The belief around the Eskimo coaching staff is that Jackson is being asked to do too much.

Being short on non-import help on the defensive line - Adam Braidwood is hurt - the Esks were forced to dress an extra import on Friday to add depth.

That led to starting defensive back Keith Williams being forced off the roster, which led to Jackson being asked to pull double duty in the secondary and returning both punts and kicks.

"You can see his legs aren't what they should be," admitted Thorpe.

"I don't see the pop he had when we started the season. That (double duty) does take its toll."

But that still doesn't get him off the hook for fumbling the ball twice.

Heading home to Mississippi for this week-long break from practices, Jackson knows the mistakes are going to stick with him.

"When I get home I am just going to work hard - just knowing I got to step my game up a lot," said Jackson.

Mathieu Bertrand will also spend the week off with a mistake looming over his head.

A veteran special teams demon, Bertrand was at fault for the blocked punt in the first half, which Ricky Foley returned 30 yards for a major.

After taking a light push from snapper Taylor Inglis at the line of scrimmage, Tad Crawford was allowed to come right down mainstreet and into Noel Prefontaine's face as he punted.

"That is Matty Bertrand. He is blocking the A-gap," said Thorpe.

"He got focused on Barron Miles. He saw Taylor block (Crawford) and his eyes came backside (to Miles).

"That is something we work on in practice - just like we work on catching punts."

Thorpe believes his club will learn from these mistakes.

The next test comes against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Aug. 21 at Commonwealth Stadium.


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