EDMONTON - Forget fishing for compliments, the Edmonton Eskimos are on the hunt after being criticized for playing dirty.
B.C. Lions defensive tackle Aaron Hunt publicly levelled the allegations via trash talk following a 33-24 loss a month ago when the two teams last met.
Unfortunately, Hunt isn’t expected to be able to back up his words on the field this week — due to an injured heel — or in the media, after blowing off interview requests during Friday’s walkthrough at BC Place Stadium.
Instead, he will be replaced by ex-Eskimo Eric Taylor, who hasn’t played against his former team since Week 3.
“I was not there and I had nothing to do with it, so I’m going to leave that alone,” Taylor said of the recent meeting, which was filled with extra-curricular activity after the whistle. “I’m going to let my play do the talking. Just go out here and play hard and be a professional.
“Do what I’ve got to do to win this game.”
It’s good advice from someone wearing the same colours.
Meanwhile, Hunt’s counterparts on the Eskimos defensive line called his actions off-side.
“It’s definitely out of line because it goes against all the rules,” said Eskimos defensive end Julius Williams. “Like, nobody comments on stuff like that.
“Being a defensive lineman, you know things like that are going to happen. Nobody comes out and says, ‘He’s dirty,’ or whatever. Just play the game.”
The offensive linemen in question didn’t feel the need to defend themselves, although the case was there to be made after the CFL levied fines from the game.
“It’s funny how that worked out,” said Eskimos right guard Greg Wojt, who is playing in his first game since that loss to B.C. after recovering from an ankle injury. “He said we played dirty, yet I think that same week they issued fines and none of us seem to have got fined, so I’m not too sure what he was talking about.
“But I’m just excited to get back out there and play like we’ve always played.”
Saturday’s showdown is for first place, and Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed said no more fuel needs to be added to the fire.
“We need to really just focus on playing football and hopefully it’s a distraction for them and not for us,” he said. “B.C. is such a good team that if we allow the extra stuff to creep in and lose any focus that they’ll gain a competitive edge.”
That goes ditto for Lions head coach Wally Buono.
“I think both teams realize if the emotion becomes the negative, then it’s going to hurt your football club,” said Buono. “The emotion should be a part of the intensity and the excitement of the game. When it’s a negative, it’s usually because it’s not being used for the right purpose.
“I don’t believe that to be the case. I think there’s way too much at stake for both teams.”
IN AND OUT: LB J.C. Sherritt isn’t done yet. Although he appears on the Eskimos’ latest depth chart as being placed on the nine-game injured list with a sprained ankle, Reed said he has only been one-gamed.
“We were going to put him on the nine-game, but we got some very good news yesterday,” said Reed.
Ex-Roughrider Hugh Charles will make his Eskimos debut returning kicks Saturday, while Lions return man Tim Brown is out with injury.
Brown was one of 14 Lions to miss time on the job due to injury over the past two weeks, and one of only four not making it back onto the active roster for Saturday’s game.