Esks D-line in decline?

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

EDMONTON - An injury has the Edmonton Eskimos defensive line taking the shape of a question mark.

With non-import defensive tackle Dee Sterling doubtful for Sunday after tweaking a knee injury in practice this week, the team is forced to rejig its ratio.

“I feel bad, we did some pass-rush stuff (Wednesday) and it just happened on the last play of (the drill),” said Eskimos defensive line coach Mike Walker. “I didn’t expect that to happen and it was unfortunate, because Dee was having a good week, so now that sets us back. Now I don’t know how the numbers play out.

“We’ll have to wait and see how our lineup’s going to be, I can’t really tell you right now.”

Sterling — who was scheduled for an MRI Thursday — backs up fellow Canadian Adam Braidwood on the depth chart, providing the Eskimos with options to use import players at other positions.

“It makes a big difference with who we put in the backfield and Braidwood’s been playing pretty good lately,” Walker said. “So that’s going to change some things and I hope that works out for the better because I really don’t know where we’re going to go right now with our lineup.”

It will depend on Sterling’s prognosis before the Eskimos decide on the answer to their ratio question.

“I think any time it goes down is a concern,” said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall. “You try to look what options you have and we’ve talked about a couple different scenarios.

“Basically we just want to wait to see what’s going on with Sterling before we act on anything.”

Fortunately, at least, the Eskimos are coming off a rare victory where they only allowed one touchdown to the opposition.

“We’ve got to follow up,” Walker said. “We wanted to go out there with energy and be physical and we did. We want to try and keep that going. We want to continue with that model of playing hard and physical.”

While it won’t provide any immediate assistance with their ratio concerns, the Eskimos have brought in a couple of new bodies along the defensive line lately.

This week, import defensive end Joe Sykes was added to the practice roster, which extends from seven to 12 players next week. The former Saskatchewan Roughrider played five games as a CFL rookie last year before being a final cut in their training camp this season.

“Because down the stretch run you never know what’s going to happen and we won’t miss a beat if something does happen,” Walker said. “I still have my guys but he’s like a security blanket.”

Last Saturday, the Eskimos claimed Toronto Argonauts defensive tackle Walter Curry.

“I coached him in Toronto my last 10 games there when I was with (former coaches Rich) Stubler and Don Matthews,” said Walker. “He’s just like Dario (Romero), he’s got a motor, plays hard, goes hard every time. He’s got a great attitude, keeps everybody up out there and that’s what we kind of need in case something happens, he’s right there and can fill right in.

“We won’t lose a step. He’s a good player and I’m excited to have him.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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