Partisan patrons

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

Rider Pride and a wacky CFL schedule has created a perfect storm at the Edmonton Eskimos ticket office.

With the extremely popular Saskatchewan Roughriders playing the Green and Gold on Thursday night (7 p.m. kickoff) at Commonwealth Stadium, more than 43,000 tickets have been sold.

"We know with Saskatchewan playing the way they are, they are the leading draw in the CFL," said Eskimos marketing director Dave Jamieson.

"But also in there, we are playing very good football. And we are coming off a bye week. We only have the one game at home in August.

"I think there is a thirst there from our fans. They haven't seen us in a while. There is pent-up demand to see football."

The Riders lead the CFL with a 6-1 record after winning the Grey Cup last year. The Eskimos are two games behind their West Division rival at 4-3.

Without another ticket sold, Thursday's game will already have the highest ticket count in the CFL this year.

But the Eskimos front office is working on a different goal now.

"Our hope is we are going to exceed the NFL crowd in Toronto," said Jamieson.

The Buffalo Bills played to an announced crowd of 48,434 on Aug. 15 at Rogers Centre against Pittsburgh.

"The way we are tracking, we certainly think (50,000 tickets sold) is achievable. That would be outstanding," said Jamieson.

The Riders and Eskimos combined to attract 46,704 fans to a July game at Commonwealth Stadium last year.

The only potential problem on the horizon this week is the weather.

There is an 80% chance of rain for Thursday, according to the latest forecast.

But ugly weather doesn't force Rider fans to stay home. On two occasions this summer in Regina, games have been delayed because of Mother Nature.

QUICK HIT: ADAM HARRIS'S OLYMPIC EXPERIENCE IS OVER.

The brother of Eskimos running back AJ Harris has been eliminated from the 200-metre event in Beijing after failing to qualify for Round 2.

Adam finished sixth in his heat late Sunday night in Round 1 in 21.36 seconds.

That wasn't fast enough to advance.

"He ran a little slower than he usually does. But he is still a winner. He made it to the Olympics," said AJ.

Adam's top 200-metre clocking came in May when he ran 20.75 seconds.

A standout at the University of Michigan, Adam was representing Guyana at the Olympics.

"Nerves were probably getting to him. He has never been in that kind of situation in front of that many people before," continued AJ on the Olympic experience.

FINISH LINES: TWO FORMER ESKIMOS - WHO ESCAPED THIS WINTER THROUGH THEIR OPTION-YEAR WINDOWS - ARE PUTTING UP GOOD NUMBERS IN NFL TRAINING CAMPS.

Receiver Maurice Mann caught a team-high four balls for the Washington Redskins last week in a preseason game against the New York Jets.

That came on the heels of a touchdown reception in an earlier preseason game.

Mann is also playing on special teams in Washington.

Defensive back Joey Thomas had an interception for Miami in their recent preseason game.

Cut-down day in the NFL is Aug. 30. If Mann and/or Thomas hit the street, the Esks have a 10-day window to sign each player to a new contract.


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