In each of their last two games, the Edmonton Eskimos have lost a receiver for the remainder of the season.
Although the receiving corps has caught the injury bug throughout the year, they aren’t about to take their ball and go home.
“They’re falling by the wayside,” said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall. “But at the same time there’s someone that’s coming in there and picking things up.”
Jason Barnes returned to Edmonton Tuesday after being released from a Hamilton hospital where he spent the past week recovering from a ruptured spleen.
Kamau Peterson ruptured his Achilles last Saturday in Vancouver. Both injuries occurred while the receivers made – and hung onto — catches while taking ferocious hits.
“We figure if we can just keep going we can get a little bit healthier but at that position it seems like another one goes down,” said Hall. “But we still feel good going into the game regarding whatever corps that we’re able to put out there.”
Being on the receiving end of the pass also means being on the receiving end of most hits, so quarterback Ricky Ray is grateful for their sacrifice.
“It’s tough, those receivers have got to go for balls and sometimes they know they’re going to get hurt,” Ray said. “It’s a physical, tough football game. Sometimes they’ve got to make some tough catches and make some big hits. You don’t ever want to see a guy get hurt, but you know it’s part of the game.
“The receiving corps, we’ve been through a lot this year. Even Fred Stamps got hurt, Andre Talbot’s been out for a little bit. It seems like everybody’s kind of got the injury bug this year. That’s just what we’re faced with, we’ve got to have a lot of guys filling in in different spots and moving guys around and try and make it happen.”
One of those moves involved bringing former Eskimos receiver Efrem Hill back into the fold.
The second-year player was released on July 13 after starting in the first two games of the regular season.
“I was hopeful that someone would call me,” Hill said. “You never know in this business whether you’ll be in or out so I just tried to make sure I was ready for whenever whoever called.”
Hill spent the past 15 weeks working as a substitute teacher at an elementary school in his hometown of Atlanta, Ga.
“I did what I was supposed to do and things didn’t work out the way I thought they should but it’s part of football, so I can’t complain,” Hill said. “I’m back now and looking towards the future.
“That’s one thing I knew, that people get hurt so just make sure that I was ready.”
And he doesn’t plan on changing things up this second time around.
“I do what I do, I can’t come and do anything differently,” he said. “I know football is one part of my life and it’s a part that I wasn’t ready to let go. When they called I immediately jumped on it.”