Esks' Reed's focus on Monday

Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed doesn't rule out rushing players back into the lineup for Monday's...

Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed doesn't rule out rushing players back into the lineup for Monday's game. (QMI Agency file)

Gerry Moddejonge, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:57 PM ET

The smart strategy would be to put all their Labour Day series eggs into one basket.

But Edmonton Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed says he’s not always smart.

Especially when it comes to the idea of sand-bagging Monday’s Labour Day Classic in Calgary in favour of loading up for the rematch at home the following week.

With a Week 4 win against the Stampeders setting the stage for the annual back-to-back rivalry, Edmonton needs just one win to capture the season series and the accompanying tie-breaker potential.

But which one becomes the must-win?

“Preferably Monday, because that’s the one that we’re going to play first,” Reed said. “The focus has to be on Monday. Monday’s game is important for us, and playing well in that game.

“Even more so its important from a psychological perspective simply because we are on a three-game losing streak. That’s the reality. We need to go into a very hostile environment against the best team in the West.”

To be the best, they have to beat the best. One out of two, at least.

“Any one of these two games we win, we are in the driver’s seat, essentially, because if we tie Calgary at the end we have a tie-breaker advantage,” Reed said.

The Labour Day series is often compared to being in two car crashes just four days apart. At least, that’s the toll it takes on a player’s body.

And with all the injuries the Eskimos already faced this season, there is a good argument made for not rushing back players on the mend in time for Monday — such as receivers Fred Stamps and Adarius Bowman, or starting cornerbacks Rod Williams and Jykine Bradley — especially with such a quick turnaround between games.

“If I were smart, that would probably be the case, but it depends on the day whether I’m reasonably intelligent or not,” Reed told the media scrum at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday. “The second game is usually a game of attrition. Who has enough healthy bodies with one day of practice to return and play a football game? Which, normally under any circumstances doesn’t happen in football.

“But this is the case, so having guys that you believe are well-versed in the system and ready to go on the (next) Friday would probably be a smart thing to do.”

But that’s not how Reed runs his football team.

“No, because the game we have to play is the game we have to play,” he said. “If I go into this football game as a head coach waiting for the next football game, I’m in the wrong business.

“I may already have been fired before then.”

IN AND OUT: The Eskimos aren’t holding their breath on the return of slotbacks Fred Stamps (abdomen) and Adarius Bowman (ribs) in time for Monday’s game.

“Right now, to be honest, it’s questionable,” Reed said. “50-50 is the percentage we were given (Friday) morning after they visited the doctors.”

DE Greg Peach (knee) was practising this week and is a go, but starting CBs Rod Williams (hamstring) and Jykine Bradley (hamstring) are doubtful.

OL Junius Coston (knee), DE Joe Sykes (ankle) and SB Jason Barnes remained on the sidelines Friday and will not play.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SunModdejonge


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