Gotta like those Esks' legs

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:57 AM ET

EDMONTON - Kavis Reed hasn’t played in the Edmonton-Calgary Labour Day series since way back before the turn of the century.

But he believes one thing to still be true.

“The biggest thing about these two games is whoever goes into the second game with the best legs will usually be the team which is successful,” he said.

Now I don’t know about Henry Burris’s legs (although he does look good in a black bra) but Reed said the gams of his guys looked good at Wednesday’s practice.

“Did I see what I was hoping to see with the legs? Actually, I did,” he said.

“There was a little bit of pep in their legs.”

Reed added a little bit more zip by making it official that star receiver Fred Stamps would be in the lineup.

Stamps went from “better than 50-50 but not 100%” to “probable” to “he’s going to play” Wednesday, and Reed also confirmed that “one of the two” starting cornerbacks — Jykine Bradley and Rod Williams — would also return from injury.

You have to believe they all would have played Monday if it had been a playoff game. But Reed’s decision to hold them out for four more days’ rest and to go into Friday without feeling like they’d been in a car crash will be an advantage.

On the other hand, Greg Peach, who returned from being out the same number of games as Stamps, came off the field and felt like he was the crash test dummy.

“It be honest, I feel crappy,” he said.

“Right now we’re all sore,” said quarterback Ricky Ray. “But body-wise, I think we’re better off this year than other years. It’ll be interesting what happens with a lot of guys.”

Edmonton has half a football team which has never done this double before.

Calgary has a lot of veterans involved and a lot of six-shooters out of their holsters aimed at their helmets down in Cowtown.

“They’ll definitely be motivated,” said Ray.

“I think we’ll be just as motivated, maybe more.

“But there’s a danger when you win the first one of feeling satisfied. We’ll see.”

Jason Armstead, a veteran of that other Labour Day series on the prairies, said this is a whole ’nother ball game.

“The turnaround is so dramatic it plays with you mentally,” he said. “It tests your mind and your body.”

Reed coached Monday’s Labour Day Classic to win, but he also coached it to have the legs for the game back here Friday regardless.

“We wanted the heat to factor in,” he said of the high temperatures for the afternoon game in Calgary.

“We wanted it to be a game of attrition. Hopefully it will help Friday night.”

Reed said the Eskimos wanted to have a significant edge in time of possession. It worked out that way — 35:40 to 24:20 — something achieved by having a very balanced run/pass ratio.

And in this situation, Reed maintains, it’s much preferable to be the hammer rather than the nail.

The thing about Wednesday for both the Eskimos and Stampeders for the last 23 years of this Labour Day doubleheader, is that it’s the toughest pair of practices every year in the CFL.

On a Sunday-Sunday series like the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers play every year, a team takes a rundown day the day after the game, gets a couple days off and then gets back at it.

“The thing about playing football is that 48 hours after the game is the time you hurt worst,” said the Eskimos’ coach.

In this Labour Day series it’s the only practice day you have. Reed took his team out on the Commonwealth Stadium turf for more than two hours yesterday. And while there was lots of movement, nothing was attempted at full speed and there was absolutely no contact.

“We did not tax them that hard. I hope it translates to Friday.”

Reed on Tuesday and Wednesday forced the players to take mandatory hot-and-cold whirlpool treatments both days as well as massage treatments, a benefit of the new facilities available in the new state-of-the-art $125-million makeover of Commonwealth Stadium.

“It’s dramatically different,” he said of the old setup when he was an Eskimos defensive back.

“It’s dramatically better. This is a pool. We had a tub.”

twitter.com/sunterryjones


Videos

Photos