No time for Esks to celebrate

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:22 AM ET

EDMONTON - Celebrate away, you Edmonton Eskimos.

OK. That's enough. Stop. Sober up. It's game time.

Seldom is there such joy, such bouncy body language and so many great grins at a walk-through practice session the day after Labour Day Classic as there were at Commonwealth Stadium Tuesday.

The Eskimos brought that back on the bus from their staggering, intoxicating 35-7 Labour Day Classic win.

But after winning big with the return of Greg Peach and Adarius Bowman to the lineup, there was even more reason to bounce around doing their business.

This was also a day they found out that star receiver and storied Stamp exterminator Fred Stamps had been declared "better than 50-50 but not 100%" to be returning for Friday's 23rd annual Labour Day rematch and the smile on Stamps's face was very visible, too.

Indeed both injured starting cornerbacks, Jykine Bradley and Rod Williams, were also declared "better than 50-50" to rejoin their teammates, fresh and fired up to try have the same effect as Peach and Bowman did Monday.

"It was such a totally different mood today to come back here after that win in a really tough environment, to play where we haven't had much success in recent Labour Days," said quarterback Ricky Ray.

"It's one thing to say you have it, but until you show you have it, it's not having it. But to come together and get a win like that ... it's just hard to describe what the feeling is like. It's just so exhilarating," added the quarterback.

"We had to get our mojo back," said head coach Kavis Reed, who was like a kid out there, bouncing from player to player, putting his sense of humour in play throughout the 45-minute session of stretches and exercises coming out of the body-sapping, cramping conditions of a very hot afternoon on the sidelines in a game in which the home team, unbelievably, choose to wear black.

"That's a very important Labour Day in terms of the way I want to shape this football team," added the 6-3 coach.

Ray, pumped by the return of Bowman, said adding Stamps will be even bigger for the team, which lost three in a row and didn't score a touchdown in 12 quarters after they lost all four starting receivers.

"You can see the difference Adarius makes," said Ray.

"He caught a five-yard pass and turned it into 31 yards. We haven't had a guy like that here since Terry Vaughn," he said of a YAC (yards after catch) guy.

"We all know Fred Stamps can make plays. You saw what putting one guy back in there can do. Put Fred Stamps back into the mix and ...

"It's just such a nice feeling to go down there and such a big win for us," said Ray, who was probably the Eskimo to sober up first, realizing that 131 yards passing probably isn't going to beat the Stampeders two games in a row.

The Stampeders, you should know, are 4-0 on the road so far this season and the cocky overconfidence factor which was built-in going into Labour Day ("We went out there and were on vacation all day." Henry Burris) won't be in play for the replay.

"Calgary's got that scoreboard where it shows you the yard totals and you look up there and think How are we winning this football game?' " said Ray.

"We definitely have to get refocused after winning such a huge football game because there's such a massive opportunity in front of us here."

I asked Reed if he really wanted to sober his team up from the high they were on Tuesday. Might you not want to keep them riding the crest of the massive win?

But, no, he said.

"It's going to be very difficult to win this next game. I expect Calgary to make adjustments," he said.

"In all reality, that's all I've been thinking the last 24 hours," said Greg Peach.

"What's ahead of us is so huge, we have to make sure we get to game time with the same mentality we had Labour Day. To sweep Calgary and be alone in first place ... that's there for us."

But Reed said that's a message to be delivered to the team by the veterans, not the head coach.

"We have a team with a lot of younger players. I don't want to burden them using that motivation. We're playing at home where we were embarrassed 36-1 in our last game. I'm not going to apply extra pressure beyond that."

Probably is too early to show them all the old Edmonton Grey Cup rings.

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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