Esks oh-oh for three

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:06 AM ET

They have the league’s worst record at 0-3.

But the Edmonton Eskimos hardly played like it over the last two weeks against opponents from the 2009 Grey Cup final.

For the first three quarters in their games against the Montreal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Eskimos not only held their own but gave themselves an opportunity to win.

But the final frame hasn’t been on their side. The winless Eskimos have been outscored 29-0 in the fourth quarter over three games so far this year.

“I think you don’t make more of it than what it is,” said head coach Richie Hall. “Because they understand it and the more that we place emphasis on it, I think sometimes that becomes a focal point and they start being nervous. So it’s trying to find that balance point.

“We want them to be relaxed when they play, regardless of what quarter it is.”

It doesn’t help that they have only averaged one touchdown a game, thanks to some dropped balls.

“Collectively, we’ve got to learn how to finish in all three phases of the game,” said slotback Kelly Campbell, who wasn’t able to hang onto a pair of end-zone passes so far. “We start off the game how we want to and we’ve just got to learn how to end it the same way.”

But the blame doesn’t fall solely on the receivers.

“It’s tough, they’re making a ton of plays for us and they’re going to have a bad play every now and then,” said quarterback Ricky Ray. “Ours are just kind of happening when we have such a good opportunity to put points on the board and do some really good things.

“We’re just making mistakes at the wrong times, turnovers in bad situations the last couple weeks and some missed opportunities.”

Opportunities to show they can play with the reigning top two teams in the league.

“We played with them last year, too,” said Eskimos middle linebacker Maurice Lloyd. “I have no doubt in my mind that we can beat them. The only doubt in my mind I have is, can we finish?

“It goes back to last year, we couldn’t finish. Winning is contagious, losing is a disease, right now we have that disease. But the disease can be cured or controlled. That comes down to every man here if they want to take the opportunity to make themselves better and understand what’s at stake.”

At stake this week is the possibility of an 0-4 start, which would be the club’s worst beginning to a season since the 1965 team went 0-5.

IN AND OUT: SB Kelly Campbell sat out during the Eskimos rundown Sunday with his left arm in a sling, but isn’t expected to miss any practice time this week. DT Dario Romero participated in team activity for the first time since injuring his ankle in the preseason. The all-star is expected to take part in practices this week, however his status for Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is questionable.

Bombers QB Steven Jyles will start in place of the injured Buck Pierce, who sprained his right knee in a 28-7 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Jyles, 27, will make his second career start in Pierce’s place against his former team.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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