Returning Esks build on positives

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:34 AM ET

EDMONTON - Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

That’s why returning Edmonton Eskimos have no problem trying to salvage something from last year’s 7-11 season, which saw them fall short of playoffs for the third time in five years.

“I’m not flushing it,” said running back Calvin McCarty, who was the team’s nominee for Most Outstanding Canadian in 2010. “But just keep that in the back of your mind knowing how bad it was or how bad it can be when times aren’t going your way so much.”

“That’s in the past. It’s a new year. We’ve got a lot of new faces, new staff and just a new feeling around here, too. I’m happy to be back here and have another shot at it.”

Defensive halfback Chris Thompson returns as the Eskimos sole league all-star from last year.

“It’s definitely a great honour, but I’d have given all the personal accolades away to be in the playoffs and have a chance for the Grey Cup,” Thompson said. “But it’s always good to be recognized by your peers and coaches as an all-star.”

Thompson finished second in the CFL with seven interceptions, one which he returned 84 yards for a touchdown.

But it was the numbers in the win/loss column going 5-2 to end the season that Thompson chooses to focus on now.

“We started off real slow, but towards the end we really started to pick it up,” Thompson said. “I think (general manager) Eric (Tillman) did a good job in the off-season of going out and getting some good guys, good talent.

“We’ve just got to build from last year and keep the ball rolling.”

It was a ball that deflated in the last game of the regular season, which caused them to miss the playoffs for the third time in five years.

“We didn’t start very well and we didn’t finish the way we wanted to because the ultimate goal is to finish with the trophy in your hand,” said linebacker-turned safety T.J. Hill. “But you know, we did blossom and we did show some signs of what we can do.”

Last year’s disappointments weren’t because of a lack of effort on the part of the Eskimos reigning defensive player of the year nominee.

“I was very grateful to receive the award,” said Hill. “But I probably wouldn’t have been able to have some of the accolades if I wasn’t there being in certain areas with the team.

“It all comes from hard work and commitment with the team. I’m not going to let anyone outwork me. That’s the one thing I can control.”

Work ethic is something Hill wants to pass along to his new teammates.

“Personally, I just like to contribute to the best of my ability,” said Hill. “You come out here like it could be your last because you never know when it’s going to be your last.

“You want it that way too because you never want to come here thinking you have a job or thinking that you’re secure. You always want to fight, that will bring out the best player in you.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/Gerry_EdmSun


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