Safety first for Esks

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:39 AM ET

Twelve weeks into the regular season and the Edmonton Eskimos will finally play their starting safety.

Elliott Richardson has resumed his spot at the non-import designated position for the first time since breaking his wrist in the preseason.

"Missing nine games, I was just kind of taking it as an extra-long offseason," said Richardson, who didn't miss a beat in his personal training or film study while sidelined from practising with the team.

But this week he was back at work.

"It was a little dicey (Tuesday), everything was moving a little quick," he said. "But (Wednesday) it really slowed back down to what it was at the beginning of the year."

Jason Nugent and rookie Saleem Borhot both played in Richardson's absence, but the second-year starter will be the starter Sunday against the Montreal Alouettes.

"I got pretty much 90% of first-team reps (Tuesday) and 100% today (Wednesday)," Richardson said. "And off-field, I'm just preparing like I'm the starter. I assume that's going to happen."

And he's looking forward to it after missing more than half the regular season.

"It's, of course, frustrating watching from the sidelines," he said. "My roommate Mark (Restelli) has been injured, too. We had Fred Stamps hurt, Tristan Jackson the starting returner and (receiver Kamau) Peterson. (Defensive end) Greg Peach is back now.

"You take those pieces of the puzzle from any team, you're not going to have a very good record. It's just good to have everyone come back at the right time of the year."

Stamps, who led the league in receiving yards last season, is also back this week after dislocating his shoulder in Week 6 against the Toronto Argonauts.

"He's a big contributor on our offence," said quarterback Ricky Ray. "He's the guy that we look to to get the ball moving, to make the big play for us. He makes all the other receivers better, too, because the defence has got to focus on him, too. If we get him back it will be big for this offence."

Head coach Richie Hall said unless something happens between now and game day, Stamps will play.

"I feel like I'm ready to play but it's not up to me," Stamps said. "My shoulder still feels kind of weak. The first two days of practice went pretty good, but we'll find out what the coaches and the doctors say on Sunday."

SHOPPING BAGGS? The Edmonton Eskimos aren't crying in their beers over reports Stevie Baggts has signed with the Hamilton Tiger Cats.

Sportsnet reported yesterday that the free agent and NFL castoff had signed with the Ticats. Baggs had been rumoured to be coming to Edmonton or returning to his former CFL team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The defensive end led the CFL with 12 sacks last season before a short stint with the Arizona Cardinals.

"A guy of his calibre coming back, particularly what he's going to get on the marketplace, I just don't see us going there particularly with our cap situation. Our emphasis is going to be on Canadian talent," Tillman said. "Stevie, I have a relationship with him, I have a lot of respect for Stevie and the production that he had for us in Saskatchewan.

"But right now I see some good players on the perimeter for this team."

With the return of Peach this week from an ankle injury that landed him on the nine-game injured list, Eskimos head coach Richie Hall said he will be rotated in with defensive ends Kai Ellis and Kenneth Pettway Sunday.


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