It’s back to basics for the Edmonton Eskimos.
Not only are they looking to return to their winning ways after dropping two in a row on the road, but with all the new bodies at Monday’s practice, things are being simplified out of necessity.
With all four of their starting import receivers currently sidelined by injury, the team signed Prechae Rodriguez and Dobson Collins, along with offensive lineman Devin Tyler.
“We have a few faces that we will look at to fill the injury voids that we have,” said head coach Kavis Reed. “I haven’t seen the number of starters go down at one time yet in my CFL coaching career, but it’s a situation we have to deal with.”
And they are doing so by airlifting in some players who already have CFL experience.
“That’s one of the things that I wanted to make certain we did, is not thrust in a rookie guy, who has no familiarity with this game, into a fray in a game that we deem is very important,” said Reed, whose squad is in danger of losing its third in a row Friday against the B.C. Lions.
But that doesn’t mean they already know the playbook.
“We will definitely modify our play calling, we will definitely modify our game plan based on the fact we have new guys,” Reed said. “We’re not going to try to force a square peg into a round hole.
“We are going to minimize what we are going to do on Friday.”
Rodriguez — who was the East Division rookie of the year after exploding onto the scene with 70 receptions for 1,099 yards — has had a head start, having already worked with Eskimos offensive co-ordinator Marcus Crandell.
“Fortunately, I was with coach Crandell when we were in Saskatchewan, so the same offence that he brought over here I’m used to,” said the six-foot-five, 203-pound Rodriguez. “Unfortunately, all the guys went down like that, but I’m extremely excited to step in and be a part of this high-flying offence.”
Rodriguez was waiting by the phone after a minor injury in training camp saw him released from the Montreal Alouettes.
“I was keeping track of everybody,” said Rodriguez. “I heard when Fred (Stamps) went down and I was watching the game when they were playing in Montreal and I saw guys go down.”
Meaning someone else needs to step up.
“When injuries happen it’s always an opportunity. I got my opportunity as a player because of an injury,” said Reed, who played in the Eskimos secondary from 1995-99. “We’re hoping that our depth will show itself. And the players that we bring in, obviously, because of attrition, we hope that those guys will come in and contribute.”
IN AND OUT: DE Greg Peach (knee), OL Junius Coston (knee), WR Marcus Henry (concussion), and DB Brian Bonner (hamstring) stayed on the sidelines Monday, along with DE Julius Williams, DT Ted Laurent, DE Joe Sykes, who took things easy Monday.
CB Rod Williams appeared to have hurt himself during practice.
WR Adarius Bowman (ribs) and WR Marcus Henry (concussion) saw limited participation with no contact, while OL Greg Wojt (knee) was back practising after leaving last Thursday’s game with an injury. OL Junius Coston (knee), did not practise after getting hurt and finishing out last Thursday’s game.
WR Reggie McNeal has been released.
Wide Receiver (Import)
Ht: 6.03 Wt: 208lbs
Born: January 21, 1985 – Tampa, FL
Yrs Esks: 1st
Yrs CFL: 4th
His productivity has dropped off since being named the East Division rookie of the year in 2008 with 70 catches for 1,099 yards, but Rodriguez is looking to make the most of his opportunity in an Eskimos receiving corps that has been decimated by injury.
July 12, 1987 – Stone Mountain, Georgia
A two-sport athlete in college, Collins split his time between football and track and field before signing with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles. He was released by the B.C. Lions last week.