How crazy is the CFL schedule this year?
The answer in this city is pretty simple: it is totally bizarre in the middle of the summer for the Edmonton Eskimos.
The Green and Gold played five games in the month of July. Included in that heavy schedule last month was three games in 12 days - with two of them being on the road.
TWO GAMES IN AUGUST
In the month of August, the Esks will play just two games.
The first tilt came Aug. 8 in Vancouver, meaning Edmonton plays just one game in the final 23 days of August.
That contest is set for Thursday night at Commonwealth Stadium (7 p.m., CHED) against Saskatchewan.
From there, the Eskimos don't play again until Labour Day (Sept. 1) in Calgary.
"Clearly, your preparation is totally out of whack," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia.
Coaching staffs are used to a regular hectic weekly schedule of breaking down film immediately after a game before installing new wrinkles and having three practices before the next game that week.
It happens like that week after week for most of the season. But in the heart of the summer, the Esks have plenty of time on their hands.
The club had last week off because of a bye week for the entire West Division.
Unlike last year, the organization handled the bye differently this season.
Players were given the entire week off - free to leave after the Aug. 8 game in Vancouver and not required to return until Aug. 16.
Edmonton had an unannounced practice on Saturday before hitting the practice field yesterday in front of the media.
In 2007, Edmonton players weren't given the whole bye week off - and that led to some unhappy campers.
"Obviously it didn't work (last year)," said Maciocia. "This year, if you look at our schedule, these guys haven't had too many days off. We had three games in 12 days and we were on the road for eight days (in Ontario).
"It gives them an opportunity to get their batteries re-charged and heal up. And it showed (Saturday) that the guys were real excited about being back."
The Saskatchewan Roughriders came back to practice last Friday, one day before the Eskimos.
But not one player in the Edmonton dressing room - in an informal poll - is unhappy with the way Maciocia handled this year's bye.
"This is the first break I have had. Every other year I have been in the league I have had practice in the middle of it," said Edmonton receiver Kamau Peterson, referring to the bye week.
"I like the rest (of the whole week off) because practice in the middle of (the bye week), in my experience hasn't done anything. Guys are still winded when we come back. And they are pissed off because they couldn't go home."
RUNNING OUT OF STEAM
The entire bye week off definitely helped returner Tristan Jackson, who was running out of steam before the break.
"(The legs) feel a lot better. I think I was getting a little fatigued," said Jackson, who spent the week in Mississippi.
The question now is: Will the week of rest bring a different result for the Esks?
Edmonton lost coming off its bye week in 2006 and 2007.
Facing the Riders - the top team in the CFL - the Eskimos are staring at a pivotal West Division match-up.
It's a battle of the No. 1 defence in the league (Saskatchewan giving up just 343 yards per game) against the second-rated offence (Edmonton scoring 203 points).