EDMONTON - So they’re in. Now what?
After assuring themselves a post-season berth earlier this week, the Edmonton Eskimos have two choices in front of them: they can bite and claw for their first home playoff game since 2004; or they can take the rest of the regular season off, secure in their accomplishments.
“It’s going to be interesting how these last four games play out,” said quarterback Ricky Ray, adding no team would consciously choose the latter option.
But the danger of slipping into complacency still exists.
“There is always something that you’ve got to try not to do,” Ray said. “Whether it’s getting too relaxed, saying we’ve accomplished one of our goals, we’re in, we don’t have to play until November.
“But I don’t think that’s going to come in. We’ve still got a lot we’re playing for: we want to win the West; we want to have a home playoff game. We know what the importance is of all those things.”
For head coach Kavis Reed, it isn’t even a question.
“We wanted to give ourselves the opportunity to play the last game of the year in this league and we’ve done that,” he said. “Now we have to focus on correcting the many mistakes that we’ve committed and get strong as a football team.”
But it’s not just about becoming strong for Ray — whose crew has missed three out of the last five playoffs since winning their last Grey Cup in 2005 — it’s about becoming the strongest.
“This is why you play, you want to be on a team that wins football games and has a chance to win a Grey Cup,” said Ray, who has two to his credit. “There is no feeling like being the best team in the CFL, so it’s definitely nice to be back in it.”
And there are four weeks remaining to get to the top.
“Our main thing is we won, we’ve got a shot at the playoffs,” said slotback Fred Stamps. “But we can’t be satisfied with just getting in, we have to keep fighting and climb that ladder.
“I’ve never played a home playoff game. That would be awesome, a home playoff game in front of the home crowd, you know? It would give us a little momentum. That’s our main goal. We can’t be complacent, we can’t be satisfied.”
The answer, said linebacker T.J. Hill, lies in not getting ahead of themselves.
“You just take one day at a time, and practice and preparation,” Hill said. “We tell ourselves preparation prevents poor performance. We’re not looking at November, we’re looking at Saturday now.
“Everybody has a long-term goal, but you can’t reach that without focusing on the short-term first.”
HUGH WHO?: The newest member of the Eskimos, RB Hugh Charles, isn’t expected to arrive in Edmonton until game day on Saturday.
Hughes was traded to the Eskimos in exchange for a conditional selection in the 2014 draft.
IN AND OUT: DT Etienne Legare (ankle) returned to practice on Wednesday after being injured in Monday’s game and is probable for Saturday.
RG Greg Wojt (ankle) remained out and is doubtful to play again. Look for OL Patrick Kabongo to make his second start in a row since losing his starting role earlier in the season.