Familiar faces on Esks O-line

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:54 PM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos offensive line is well ahead of the rest of the team.

After all, they're the one unit that looks the same as it did last year. Mostly.

Besides retaining one of just two coaches from 2010 in Tim Prinsen, the squad was the only one to bring back all of its starters.

"That was the beautiful thing about coming into this year, is we really generated a lot of positive momentum at the end of the year," said Prinsen, who - along with linebackers coach Mark Nelson -- returns to the club after coming aboard midway through the 2010 campaign. "Yes, we did not make the playoffs and we weren't good enough to make the playoffs, obviously our (7-11) record shows that.

"But the last six or seven games we went on a pretty good run and that instilled confidence in the guys and I think that's carried over into this (season).

While coach Nelson is left with just one returning starter in his midst with Rod Davis, Prinsen has, from left to right: Jeremy Parquet, Kyle Koch, Aaron Fiacconi, Patrick Kabongo and Greg Wojt.

Though the starting lineup will change some as the Eskimos experiment with moving the big bodies around and bringing in another American to go along with Parquet, despite the O-line spots typically being designated as non-import.

"It is, traditionally," Prinsen said. "In my mind, (an American) has to be markedly better. If it's even, then I would think that a Canadian should play.

"It's positive when you can work with the bulk of the same guys the next year. Obviously there's always going to be change, but when you can have a core group of guys that are used to what you're teaching, everybody feeds off each other and off we go."

Or, more appropriately, here we stay.

The O-line was the top target for negative publicity last season, and rightfully so. But it was specifically because of the adversity they faced -- and overcame -- that they get another chance.

"I don't think you want to go through too many seasons like we had here last year," Fiacconi said. "We were definitely the whipping boys as far as the media was concerned, and the fan base. And rightfully so, we didn't hold up our end of the bargain."

But they managed to hold themselves together.

"Continuity is necessary to have success on the offensive line," said Fiacconi. "I think that's one of the things that coach (Kavis) Reed noticed, we played pretty good down the stretch. Our general manager, I think he has some faith in us too, which is a good thing.

"We did our best to come together when the going was tough last year and I think it kind of carried over. Hopefully we can start fresh and have a good start to the season here."

IN AND OUT: With import OT Cliff Washburn sidelined with a broken finger, Junius Coston came in from the practice squad to work with the first-team offence at RG.

"It's starting to add up a little bit now and maybe I'm too hard as a coach, I don't know," Prinsen said. "It happens. Injuries do happen, it's part of the game but it's just how well you overcome and can adapt to those situations when they present themselves."

WR Marcus Henry watched from the sidelines Wednesday.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SunModdejonge


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