Esks not calling it quits quite yet

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:04 PM ET

It's not exactly a new season for the Edmonton Eskimos coming off of their bye week, but the 1-6 club is at least adopting a new attitude to the rest of their schedule.

While they don't expect to fool anyone about the deficit they are in, they at least have something to focus on other than their record, looking ahead.

"We don't worry about the first seven games, it's an 11-game season," said Eskimos middle linebacker Maurice Lloyd. "I think that we have enough belief in here and enough character in here to come out here and finish every game, one game at a time. Just come out here and play hard."

For new linebackers coach Mark Nelson, Saturday's game against the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders will indeed be his first game of 2010 and he is happy to have his players beginning anew as well.

"We've got an 11-game season. The players had a short off-season and they came back and they're flying around," said Nelson. "It's a good attitude. Right now, we're undefeated in the new season."

After all, it's not how you start but how you finish. Right?

"Obviously we've had a rough start so we want to forget about it," said Ray. "We don't want to keep thinking about how bad we've played up to this point, so for us it's about trying to put that behind us and move forward.

"If we were 6-1, we'd still be thinking about the beginning and trying to build off of that, but we're trying to create our own momentum starting from this week. Hopefully we can just come out and get things moving in the right direction."

As bad as things have been for the Eskimos, they're not the only ones who have been floundering.

"As bad as we've played, we're only a game out of the playoffs," said Ray. "We've go a lot to play for still."

Tied with the B.C. Lions for last place in the West Division, the Eskimos also have to finish ahead of the 2-6 Winnipeg Blue Bombers to avoid losing their playoff spot to an East Division crossover.

"We need to look at this like this is a whole new season," said Eskimos centre Aaron Fiacconi. "This is our opportunity. Who would have said that it would be a gift that going seven games into the season, you're only one game out of the playoffs with 11 games to go? And that's a pretty good situation to be in.

"I think we also need to know that there's some urgency and every game from here on out is a playoff game."

Wins and losses aside, reaching the post-season is now the Eskimos sole priority.

"We've kind of got a little plan for the new season and we're going with that. The plan is to win enough games and get in the playoffs, that's all we're going to do," said Nelson. "My philosophy is every day we get that much better. I just want to get that much better at whatever we're doing. If we're that much better, we're probably going to win enough games to get into the playoffs. That's our whole focus."

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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