Esks' Lloyd ready to go

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:08 PM ET

Mo’s ready to go.

Edmonton Eskimos middle linebacker Maurice Lloyd returned to practice Wednesday just in time to begin preparations for this weekend’s season opener against the B.C. Lions.

A knee injury suffered early in a preseason game between the two teams in Vancouver a week and a half ago put the fifth-year CFL veteran on the shelf for the remainder of training camp.

“It was fun, but I’ve got to get back into the mental mist, missing probably about a week or two of practice. Things move a little bit faster,” said Lloyd, who will find out by Friday if he’s cleared to play in Sunday’s game. “It’s never good to have any type of injury, but it was a wonderful thing that we had these two weeks before the first game.”

But for Lloyd, it might as well already be playoffs.

“Just make sure that the defence understands each game is a playoff game, not a regular-season game, because at the end of the tunnel you want to set yourself up with the best record and for the best opportunity for the future run,” he said.

While Lloyd had to get used to new surroundings last season after coming to Edmonton from the Saskatchewan Roughriders, he is returning to familiar territory under the direction of head coach Richie Hall, who is resuming his role as defensive co-ordinator that he held with that other team.

“We look better this year than we did last year at this time,” Lloyd said. “It’s been a wonderful fit for these guys but it’s also taken a toll on me because I know Richie’s defence, so (I can’t be) making mental mistakes and trying to make sure I get these other guys aligned right and making sure the D is ran right.

“I take the first bullet when anything goes wrong with this defence. I feel that being in the middle, being the Matt linebacker and being the captain of the defence, all the weight is all on my shoulders.”

To a point.

“Not saying I’m going to stress about it,” Lloyd said. “I’m not going to have the season I had last year being pressured, but I take a lot of pride in making sure this defence is No. 1 in every category.”

Hall said he has no problem reminding Lloyd to have fun on the field.

“I think you’ve got to keep things in perspective because he wants to be a leader,” Hall said. “He’s a captain and you like that responsibility but at the same time, everyone is being held accountable. Don’t lose perspective by trying to direct everyone else and forget about what you’re doing.

“Control what you can control. They get paid, they’re held accountable and they need to know what they’re supposed to do.”

HOT ROUTE: Eskimos slotback Fred Stamps showed why he led the league in receiving yards, juggling a ball to himself in double coverage by cornerback Jason Goss and safety Jason Nugent in Wednesday’s practice.

Fellow import slotback Jason Barnes — who is coming off a tremendous training camp — followed up with a diving tip-to-himself of his own against rookie defensive back Weldon Brown’s tight coverage.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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