Esks bring in prime replacements

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:48 PM ET

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Eskimos knocked down their secondary over the off-season and brought in some prime replacements.

It’s a vastly different looking unit compared to the one they ended the 2009 season with, let alone the one that came into training camp last year, following the departure of Kelly Malveaux, Bradley Robinson, Lamar Herron and most recently, Lenny Williams and Anthony Malbrough.

Off-season acquisitions include former Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive back Lenny Walls, who led the East Division with seven interceptions last year, and former Hamilton Tiger-cats Chris Thompson and Lawrence ‘Flash’ Gordon.

“We identified areas where we need to get better and that was one area,” Eskimos general manager Danny Maciocia said of the revamped secondary. “Hopefully these guys are going to be able to step up and get it done.”

They join last year’s starters Elliott Richardson at safety, cornerback Jason Goss and defensive half Randee Drew, who was placed on the inactive list as training camp opened.

Who will earn roster spots and starting jobs this year is another question, one that will no doubt be answered in training camp.

“We’re trying to make (the decisions) tough on ourselves,” Maciocia said. “At the end of the day, everybody wants to go out there and score 40 or 50 points a game. But it would be so much easier if we could just line up and play well defensively and not count on those 40 or 50 points.”

Just as long as they don’t give up those 40 or 50 points – like they did early last season with a 50-16 loss to the Montreal Alouettes and a 40-22 decision to the B.C. Lions – the Eskimos will put themselves in a much better position to get off to a strong start.

But with the tough choices facing the coaching staff this month, those lopsided losses are hopefully a thing of the past.

Eskimos Notes

WHO’S HOT: QB Ricky Ray put some precision passing on display for fans in attendance, dropping the ball neatly in behind defenders like it wasn’t just Day 1 of camp.

WHO’S NOT: RB Ramonce Taylor was quite literally not hot, sporting sweat pants and a toque despite above-20 C temperatures. DB Lawrence Gordon turned up the heat on coverage drills in the second practice after looking a little rusty at the beginning of the day.

BIG CATCH: WR Andre Talbot hauled in a pass from Jared Zabransky after tight coverage from S Elliot Richardson forced him to make a spectacular one-handed catch.

BIG PLAY: DB Chris Thompson made an impression on his first day with his new team. The former Hamilton Ti-cats defender hauled in an interception over top of SB Jason Barnes in a one-on-one coverage drill to open training camp.

IN AND OUT: Veterans Randee Drew (DB) and Tim St. Pierre (LB) were in practice attire but forced to watch from the sidelines after being placed on the inactive list following Saturday’s team medicals … RB Ramonce Taylor and FB Mathieu Bertrand did not participate in drills.

NOTES: It was fan-appreciation day at Clarke Park, with players holding an autograph session following the second of their two-a-day practices … OT Calvin Armstrong switched over to protect the blindside, switching positions with Joe McGrath on the depth chart … Training camp moves next door to Commonwealth Stadium beginning Monday in order to break in the new field turf that was installed over the off-season.

UP NEXT: Day 2 runs from 8 a.m. to 10:20 a.m., and again from 10:35 a.m. to 12:35p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium.


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