Esks backups move forward

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:52 PM ET

They’re called backups, but that won’t stop the Edmonton Eskimos from moving forward.

An injury to Ricky Ray means the season hangs in the balance on the shoulders of backup quarterbacks Jared Zabransky and Jason Maas.

“That’s exactly right, we’ve got to be ready at every beck and call,” said Zabransky, who will get his second start in a row Saturday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (5 p.m.). “It’s just good to be able to get another week to see stuff and to prepare as a (No.) 1 and not kind of be thrown into the fire.”

In his second CFL season, Zabransky leap-frogged 11-year veteran Jason Maas for the No. 2 spot behind Ray at the mid-point of the season.

“Zee’s been the No. 2 quarterback here for the last six weeks,” Maas said. “That’s the way it’s been since Calgary, he stepped in and did exactly what your No. 2 guy is supposed to do.

“Obviously, Zee’s got a bright future in the CFL. We all understand that.”

But that’s not to say Maas has any less to offer the Eskimos at this time of year.

“The reason I’m around right now and the reason why I come back every year is not for the regular season as much, but I want to be around for the playoffs,” he said. “I want to help this team get into the playoffs and make some noise in the playoffs. I want to have that opportunity, if it arises, to play in the playoffs. Ultimately, when you’re longer in your career, you stick around for the playoffs and the Grey Cups. I feel like I give the team leadership and depth if they need it at any point.

“I’ve played in the semifinal and western final in different types of weather. I know what it’s like to play when it’s cold in Saskatchewan, when it’s cold in Calgary and when it’s cold in Edmonton, so I feel like I have the experience to do that.”

It has been a frustrating season for Maas, whose 23 pass attempts are the fewest in his career next to a 2005 season where he went three-for-three in the regular season before coming in for the save twice on the way to the team’s last Grey Cup.

His 43.5% completion percentage this season is a career low, while a pair of interceptions contributed to his worst–ever quarterback efficiency rating of 25.3.

IN AND OUT: RB Daniel Porter (leg) and LG Kyle Koch did not practise, but Hall expects them to be able to play Saturday. DE Kai Ellis was on the sidelines, along with DT Dario Romero, DT Adam Braidwood (hamstring) and DE Justin Cooper. WR Jamaica Rector returned after sitting out last game.

Newly signed QB Kerry Joseph was scheduled to arrive in Edmonton Tuesday night and practise Wednesday.

FAN FRIENDLY: The Eskimos are holding Fan Appreciation Night on Saturday, with a chance to win $100,000 in a pass, punt and kick contest. Other prizes include trips and team posters.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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