Hall finds himself in familiar territory

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:38 PM ET

EDMONTON — Richie Hall found himself in familiar territory as training camp opened Sunday.

Not only was the Edmonton Eskimos head coach returning to the practice field at Clarke Park for his second season with the team, but he also marked his return as a defensive co-ordinator.

A former D-co-ordinator with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Hall took on those responsibilities once again with the Eskimos following the departure of Jim Daley from the organization in the off-season.

“The last three months have been a lot different as far as getting on the same page with the coaches,” Hall said. “Once practice starts and the players came in, it’s like it has been in the past for me.

“It’s all that preparation … and little details regarding the process so when you get the final result to the players it’s easy.”

Although he must now juggle his new duties with those of being head coach, Hall said he’s happy to be more hands-on with his defence.

“I’m really excited just to be out here. It’s like (Saturday) night in meetings, it’s been a year removed since I’ve been on the chalkboard,” Hall said. “I was nervous as heck, but it felt good because it’s something that I’ve done and I enjoyed doing it.”

But with training camp only beginning, Hall knows it will take some time to get his secondary to a competitive level, especially considering four of the five positions will see different starters compared to the end of last season.

“They’re getting there. Sometimes I have to be patient because this is the first time they were on the field,” Hall said. “When you look at that group, (Lenny) Walls, (Chris) Thompson, (Willie) Amos, it’s all their first time lining up together within our scheme,” said Hall. “I think they understand what we’re trying to accomplish, now it’s a matter of communicating.

“We give them the parameters. How they get there, we allow them to dictate that. We don’t want robots out there, we want them to be creative as far as moving around and trying to disguise things.”

Hall’s not asking his secondary to do the impossible, just to do their jobs.

“You don’t have to lead the league in interceptions to be the best,” Hall said. “What you want to do is be consistent and make plays and make the offence have to earn every yard that they get through the air.”

Although the Eskimos showed flashes of brilliance in their pass protection last season, Hall said the secondary was far too charitable.

“We were inconsistent last year,” Hall said. “There were times when we gave away things and I could have thrown the ball. You want to eliminate those breakdowns.”

TICKET TALLY: As of the end of practice Sunday, the Eskimos were just hundreds of tickets away from selling out Commonwealth Stadium for the 2010 Grey Cup.

Just 150 seats remain, along with some single tickets. But the club is releasing 200 more available through season-seat packages. The sold-out attendance figure will be around the 62,000 mark – similar to the 2002 Grey Cup, said Eskimos president Rich LeLacheur.

“We’re just delighted with the response and hopefully in the next couple days we can move on to other things.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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