End of two-a-days for Eskimos

Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed says the training camp two-a-day sessions help to test players’...

Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed says the training camp two-a-day sessions help to test players’ mental and physical toughness.

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:34 PM ET

EDMONTON - In football, it’s a necessary evil.

Yet, there are few Edmonton Eskimos who are sad to see the end of the two-a-day practice sessions for another year.

On Tuesday, the club held its final two-a-day session, forced indoors into the Commonwealth Field house.

“It’s tough on the body, but the mind is the biggest muscle you have,” said offensive lineman Jeremy Parquet. “No matter what happens, you have to go out there, be mentally strong and give it your all at every practice.

“You can’t pace yourself, because when you do, that’s when you get hurt. If you try and take it easy and not go as hard, that’s when you can get hurt.”

Those on the offensive line are probably affected most by having to practise twice a day for consecutive days.

The position is demanding enough, but having to beat up on each other for a couple of hours, only to have to do it again a few hours later, takes its toll on both the mind and body.

And it’s not as though they can afford to ease up in a practice, literally battling one another for spots on the roster.

Head coach Kavis Reed made that clear on Monday.

“I’m going to claim that it’s toughest on the offensive line for sure,” said offensive line coach Tim Prinsen. “That’s from playing experience, too. It’s a grind. Everything we do involves contact. Even when we do drills with one another it involves contact. It is a grind, but it’s a necessary evil.”

The two-a-days are designed to get the best look at players trying to make the team in the shortest amount of time.

It also tests the mental and physical strength of individuals.

“That’s what training camp is supposed to do,” said Reed. “We have a very limited roster and we have a very long season and we have to see whether guys are mentally and physically tough and whether they’re able to recover.

“Our weeks are short, we usually don’t get seven-day weeks like they do down south (NFL). We have some short weeks and some long trips, so we have to make sure guys are durable and are strong.”

The Eskimos have been hammering on each other for the past 10 days as they prepare to take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders in their first exhibition game on Friday.

While the evaluation process never really ends, starting Wednesday, the Eskimos focus shifts towards game preparation as the club will practise just once a day from here on out.

“Most of it is mental,” said running back Daniel Porter. “Most of us are in pretty good shape and we’ve been playing football for a long time. It’s that mental grind that gets tough and you have to be able to push through when you’re tired.

“When I first started professional ball, I would actually count down the two-a-days. But as you get older, you stop doing that.”

Despite being on the field for nearly five hours a day during the first week and a half of training camp, players are not cut much slack if their intensity decreases on the field.

In the locker room, however, things get eerily quiet as training camp goes along.

“I don’t think any of us running backs counted the two-a-days this year,” said Porter. “We just approached it like we assumed we were having two-a-days every day. As we get closer and closer to game time, we know two-a-days will eventually come to an end. When you don’t think about it that much, it ends up going a little faster, taking it one practice at a time.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

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