Esks get down to business

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:22 AM ET

EDMONTON -- The two-week job interview known as training camp is complete.

It’s time for the Edmonton Eskimos to focus on the team instead of a bunch of individuals competing for jobs.

With the roster now finalized and the regular season fast approaching, it’s time to get down to business.

“I think it was a different mood because it was the first time we were on the field after cuts and I think any time you have cuts and you’re friends and relationships really develop, they feel kind of sad,” said head coach Richie Hall, who released 14 players last week. “But now it’s back to it and there’s a little pep out there. There is different atmosphere because we have our team now and the focus is on the B.C. Lions.”

But not so fast. The Eskimos have two days off before getting preparations for their season opener underway for next Sunday’s home opener at Commonwealth Stadium.

While the players appreciate the rest, coaches would rather keep players involved.

“You kind of like to get into that regular routine,” said Hall. “You go from one extreme to the other. You go to training camp, which is rush, rush, rush, and now they haven’t done a great deal since last Sunday’s (preseason) game.

“All of a sudden you’ve got to pick it back up there and just give ’er a week from (Sunday). I like playing the sooner the better because you get into that routine.”

Their first two games are home against the Lions July 4, before facing the Montreal Alouettes on July 11.

“I think you always want to play at home before you start off the season because at home you should have an advantage,” Hall said. “If you can dominate at home regarding your win-loss percentage, then you have a great chance of finishing high in the standings.

“We didn’t do as well as we wanted to last year, but I know we are going to play well at home and the guys are enthused as far as just being able to showcase the new look to Commonwealth Stadium.”

After spending the entire preseason looking inwards to put their team together, Eskimos coaches are now turning their attention on the opposition.

“We’ll start game-planning for B.C.,” said Hall, whose squad took a 36-32 victory from the Lions in the final preseason game last week, but next week’s rematch will count towards the standings. “You’re looking at your team and you’ve got a good feel, so you’re starting to game plan but also look to the future.”

IN AND OUT: LB Mo Lloyd (knee) and WR Andre Talbot (ankle) remained out, while WR Kevin Wuthrich was sidelined with his left arm in a sling.

None are expected to miss next week’s season opener.

“My main concern is just, how are we going to line up on Wednesday,” Hall said. “I was surprised to see (SB) Fred Stamps practise, which is encouraging. With the break giving us an opportunity to heal up, there is no urgency for these guys that they have to practise right now.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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