Plug and play trend for Esks

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:14 PM ET

For the second week in a row, the Edmonton Eskimos have brought in a new player just in time to face his former team.

Kick returner Jason Armstead is headed to Edmonton, making the sixth out of nine different possible stops throughout his CFL career.

Armstead, who helped the Saskatchewan Roughriders reach the Grey Cup final in 2009, could get a chance to face his old squad Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium (5 p.m.).

He joins an Eskimos team that just last week added receiver Derick Armstrong in time to suit up against his former club, the B.C. Lions.

“If you look at this time last week, we had Derick Armstrong and plugged him in with short notice,” said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall. “So be it. If we have to, we can plug Jason Armstead in.”

Intentional or not, there may be a trend developing.

“It could be,” Ricky Ray said, smiling. “I don’t know how much they’re talking to the defensive guys but it’s just nice to have veteran guys come in because they fill in a little bit quicker.”

But Hall said it’s just a coincidence.

“I know even talking to Armstrong last week, he didn’t even know that we were playing B.C.,” said Hall. “It’s just the time in the schedule right now where we’re just trying to give ourselves the best opportunity to win and looking to find some healthy bodies that have played.”

CFL experience is a valuable commodity on the free agent market at this time of year.

“We’re a little dinged up right now, so it’s good to have veteran guys come in because it’s getting down to the stretch,” said Ray. “We don’t have a lot of time to teach new guys to play in the CFL.

“Really, with veteran guys you’ve just got to get them the game plan, get them familiar with what we do. You don’t have to teach them the waggle, where to line up or all those things.”

Besides being a proven return man, Armstead also lines up at receiver.

“He’s been able to do a lot of things in this league, returning and playing receiver so that will be a good benefit to have him out there just because he’s so versatile,” said Ray.

Primarily used as a return man, Armstead averaged 9.4 yards on 42 punt returns and 24.4 yards on 33 kick returns last season with the Roughriders.

“He’s done a good job with it, he understands the league, he’s been successful in the league. Mr. (Eric) Tillman and myself are familiar with him,” Hall said. “This time last year down the stretch, Saskatchewan brought him in for the same reason.

“Tristan (Jackson) is banged up right now and Kelly (Campbell) is banged up,” said Hall. “Skyler Green, he’s still on the nine game (injured list). When you look at it trying to find that extra dimension that we haven’t been consistent with, we are in search of a returner.”

IN AND OUT: QB Ricky Ray sat out of practice again Wednesday, but is expected to play Saturday.

“I’m optimistic about it,” Hall said. “It’s not a concern that he’s not playing. He’s sore.”

MLB Maurice Lloyd returned to practice for the first time since injuring his ribs in Hamilton, while LB T.J. Hill sat out for the second day. DB Chris Thompson returned, along with SB Kelly Campbell and DE Kai Ellis.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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