Esks protection racket

The Eskimos offensive line showed improvement during Friday's win over B.C.(DOREEN THUNDER,...

The Eskimos offensive line showed improvement during Friday's win over B.C.(DOREEN THUNDER, Edmonton Sun)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:51 PM ET

They drew a line in the sand, and it was in the shape of an ‘O’.

The Edmonton Eskimos’offensive line had night-and-day performances in the last two weeks, showing vast improvement from a loss in Winnipeg to their first win of the season over the B.C. Lions last Friday.

“The Winnipeg game was just a wakeup call,” said Eskimos centre Aaron Fiacconi. “You could say the offensive line had a decent game in Week 2, had a decent game in Week 3.

“We had such high expectations that we were going to go into Winnipeg and get our first ‘W.’

“We got our asses handed to us.”

It was a huge wakeup call.

“False sense of confidence. We thought we were better than what we were,” Fiaconni said. “We thought that it was going to come easy and it didn’t.”

Their first win was far from pretty, but effective.

“We don’t want to be known as those Eskimos that (other teams) are going to go in and give a whuppin’ to, you know,” Fiacconi said. “We had our hackles up a little bit more and we proved that we are a pretty good football team, I think.”

The offensive line is in the opposite scenario to the one they found themselves in at this time last season.

The focus last year was on run blocking to help the rushing offence. Arkee Whitlock is finding yards on the ground in 2010, but pass protection has suffered.

“We addressed that,” Fiacconi said. “We started out the first game of the year and we had a few different personnel in there. It takes time for confidence to build.

“I felt last week, we really had that confidence as far as pass protecting. Everybody seemed to be in the right position, everyone was a little more aggressive in their pass sets, we were throwing our bodies around and, for some reason, we weren’t doing that the first four weeks.”

The Blue Bombers had four sacks, while the Eskimos allowed only a pair against the Lions.

“We weren’t playing desperate enough football. Every game’s got to be desperate or you’re never going to win,” said Fiacconi, whose O-line mates helped Whitlock break the 1,000-yard rushing mark last year.

“Arkee’s getting confident, he’s getting comfortable, he’s starting to realize the scheme we’re running. He knows his offensive linemen pretty well now. He’s just an amazing athlete and he’s making stuff happen out there.

“When he gets 100 yards and Ricky throws for over 300, we should have a victory by most standards. The game was a lot tighter than it needed to be.”

There is still plenty of room for improvement, considering the Eskimos were stopped twice on first-and-goal from the two-yard line Friday.

“I guarantee next time we get down there, it’s not going to happen again,” Fiacconi said. “We pride ourselves upon the talk that we’re as good an offensive line that there is in this league and when you haven’t shown that in the course of four weeks, then you start to question yourself and it’s man up or shut up.”

IN AND OUT: DB Lenny Walls had an air cast on his left foot and did not participate, look for Lawrence Gordon to move to defensive half, while Jason Goss will return to cornerback opposite Roderick Davis. DE Kai Ellis sat out again on Wednesday.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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