EDMONTON - Wednesday. Hump Day on Week 1 of Eskimos training camp.
Just a few days away from Sunday’s preseason game at Commonwealth against the Calgary Stampeders. Did we mention it’s the first chance for fans to see the new turf?
Esks head coach Richie Hall took it a bit easier on his troops Wednesday, satisfied with the progress they’re making on this year’s program.
“You always want to see improvement and that’s what we’re seeing consistently,” said Hall, who shrugged off suggestions this was a short week.
“This is a long week compared to what I’ve been accustomed to,” said Hall. “When I was with that other team, a lot of times we were playing on a Friday or Saturday after opening on Sunday. This is unusual for me.”
Having said that, there’s only so long a team can practise with each other before tempers start fraying. Took a couple of days this time around.
“What I like about it is you get a chance to evaluate yourself against somebody else,” said Hall. “After about Day 3, you get tired of playing against each other. All of a sudden, you get a game atmosphere and a truer indication of them.
“I don’t see it being an issue because our game plans are very limited on both sides. We just want to see what they do when the lights come on.”
Even though Sunday’s game plan will be pretty simple, there have been some interesting wrinkles thrown into the playbook that are sure to appear somewhere down the line.
“They have more fun,” said Hall. “Hopefully, but this time they feel comfortable with the foundation. It becomes, to some degree, a bit of an overload because you’re still throwing information at them.
“For the last three or four days, we’ve been overloading them and having some pretty high expectations of them.”
QUEBEC HUMOUR: Didja hear the one about the Habs and the Nords?
Not sure what the punchlines — or even the jokes — were when rookie defensive end Marc Beaudoin-Cloutier got up to entertain the Eskimos veterans at Tuesday night’s team meal.
Beaudoin-Cloutier was one of four rookies in the impromptu talent show and took it all in stride.
“Every team, when you’re a rookie, you have to entertain the veterans,” said Beaudoin-Cloutier. “So, it’s don’t be shy and just do it.”
The rook brought some Quebec humour to the stage, which must have been quite a cultural experience for some of the vets.
“I’ve got a big accent,” said Beaudoin-Cloutier, who grew up in Quebec City. “I don’t speak English really, really well. I’m learning English right now, a lot this week.”
He was happy with the reaction.
“Yeah, yeah. That’s good. That’s fine,” he said. “This is my first CFL camp. It’s a really nice experience. (Tuesday) I was having trouble with my hamstrings. I want to be on the field to learn how to play against the big offensive line. They’re fast and very good.”
And that’s no joke.
STAMPS HURT: There were a few tense moments when wide receiver Fred Stamps was hauled off to the medical room just before Wednesday’s sessions ended.
Hall puts it down to the usual camp nicks and bruises.
“It’s nothing that’s very serious,” said Hall about the team’s 2009 leading receiver, CFL all-star and the Eskimos’ nomination as most outstanding player. “It’s just something that’s maybe a little tight, and with the weather, it’s a chance to get another half-hour’s rest.”