Esks aren't throwing in towel

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

MONCTON, N.B. -- Only a complete collapse in their seven remaining games will keep the Argonauts from securing a Canadian Football League playoff spot.

The Edmonton Eskimos wish they could have it so good.

The Eskimos have dragged a league-worst 2-9 record into New Brunswick, and are trying to convince themselves they will be a formidable opponent for the Argos in Touchdown Atlantic on Sunday, the first CFL regular-season game to be contested at a neutral site.

"We dug ourselves a pit, and we understand that," Eskimos head coach Richie Hall said on Wednesday after, in his words, the Eskimos were "sluggish" in practice.

"But how are you going to get yourselves out of the pit? You don't do it by feeling sorry for yourself and giving up. If you want to achieve something, you have to go out and do it."

The Eskimos are 1-4 since losing to the Argos on Aug. 6, and are on an extended trip by CFL standards, arriving late on Sunday night after they were pasted by the Alouettes in Montreal.

New general manager Eric Tillman, however, returned to his Regina home after that game, apparently concerned that his presence here would be a distraction.

There isn't a player in green and gold who hasn't struggled at one time or another. Quarterback Ricky Ray has seven touchdown passes against 12 interceptions, and his completion percentage of 61.6%is lower than that of Argos quarterback Cleo Lemon, who has completed 62.4%of his passes in his rookie CFL season.

There have been whispers for weeks about Ray winding up via trade in Toronto, but even with Ray's experience, it's hard to imagine why Argos head coach Jim Barker would want to start over again in the final third of the season.

Eskimos kicker Noel Prefontaine, an Argo until a trade sent him west on the eve of training camp in 2008, said it has been an uphill challenge to keep misery out of the locker room.

"Losing is never fun, and you almost get to a point where losing feels like a habit," Prefontaine said. "It's difficult. Hopefully there are greener pastures. It can (be turned around).We are still in a playoff race. We have a tremendous opportunity to get ourselves in the post-season and we are going to go out and try to do that."


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