Pivot pecking order entrenched

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:46 PM ET

EDMONTON - The distribution of experience among the Edmonton Eskimos quarterbacks consists of just two categories: all and none.

But with veteran pivots Ricky Ray and Jason Maas combining for 19 CFL seasons, it’s hard to think third-stringer Jared Zabransky or newcomer Floyd Haigler have much of a chance of moving up in the rotation.

“I think you’ve got to keep your eye open for flexibility, but at the same time you’ve got to look at your experience,” said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall. “Jason, he’s a No. 1 quarterback. He just happens to be with us and we happen to have Ricky. Then you have Zabransky, he’s the unknown. He’s very gifted, played well for us in preseason last year but still doesn’t have the experience.

“There’s a learning curve.”

One that began last year for Zabransky.

“I’ve got a pretty good feel for the system,” said the 26-year-old Boise State product. “Now it just comes to going out and making the correct reads and letting it go.”

While the two preseason games can act as stages to earn more game time throughout the regular season, Zabransky said he considers every snap in training camp a test.

“We take a lot from the practices and how you perform on an everyday basis,” he said. “But I definitely want to go out there and show what I can do. Pretty much just show that I’m capable of playing consistently.”

It’s not something Zabransky has had a lot of opportunity to do last year behind Ray and Maas. But coaches don’t hold it against him.

“Having a lack of experience isn’t always a bad thing,” Hall said. “But right now, we want to see both of them play, get in there and get the feel. Zabransky should be more confident and feel more at ease with the CFL game and our offence because this is his second year around.”

The Eskimos aren’t about to forget about Haigler, an unsigned free agent, either.

“Our plan is to go in and look at all four quarterbacks,” Hall said, adding playing time likely won’t be equal in the two preseason tilts.

And when Haigler finally does get in the game, it will be the 23-year-old’s first look at a CFL opponent.

“It’s no different than this time last year when Zabransky got a chance to play,” Hall said.

IN AND OUT: Injuries may impact how many players the Eskimos suit up for their first preseason game Sunday.

“We want to dress as many bodies as we can,” Hall said. “There are some guys that are nicked up and you don’t want to jeopardize that situation because we also have next week’s B.C. game. Especially the young guys, you want an opportunity to see them.”

Defensive lineman Adam Braidwood has sat out at times during training camp and is questionable for Sunday’s game, which would mark his first return to CFL competition in over two years.

“We’re still talking to see what his conditions are,” Hall said. “He’s nicked a little bit, but we’ll see when we have the medical report.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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