After the end of two-a-days, and a day of meetings on Sunday, Reed expected more jump and focus from his training campers. Instead, there were dropped balls, bad snaps, sluggish drills and an overall casual approach to the start of the work week.
Those are the kind of practice habits he doesn’t want germinating on a young, rebuilding team. Hence the avalanche of F-Bombs.
“The way you prepare for a season is very important, the way you prepare for a game is very important,” said Reed. “You can’t just turn it on at the professional level because you have to expect that the other seven teams are working extremely hard and extremely efficiently.
“You have to expect that we’re not a better coaching staff, we’re not better talent, you have to expect that all things are equal. What’s going to separate us from the other seven teams is the attention to detail. Chase perfection and settle for excellence.
“That’s the Eskimo way.”
Even the assistant coaches weren’t spared the rod. Reed says they have to be sharper, too.
“I just want to make certain that when we’re coming out of the meeting rooms everyone knows what they’re supposed to do and they do it with alacrity,” he said. “That’s the name of the game: efficiency. When we’re fumbling around trying to get cards done and when we don’t have the right personnel groupings on, or we’re not adhering to the 20-second play clock, those are things we can’t have.”
The players saw enough steam coming out of Reed’s ears during practice that they half expected he was going to blow.
“I knew it was coming, you could just tell,” said receiver Fred Stamps. “When he starts walking around like that, getting quiet, you know it’s time to pick it up because that’s when he gets mad.
“Today was just one of those days, one of those sluggish Mondays. Everybody has them, but like he said, when you’re tired you have to be mentally and physically prepared. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves, everybody is tired across the league. We have to push it.”
The outburst seemed out of character for Reed, who is soft-spoken and mild mannered away from business, but players who’ve been here a while say he’s the wrong guy to cross when it comes to building a winning program.
“A lot of people see him around with a smile on his face, but we knew, when it’s time to turn it on, he doesn’t play around,” said Stamps. “He gives it to us any way, any time. That’s one thing I love about him — there’s no favouritism. He’s here to win, he’s here to get a good football team and he wants everybody to get on board with him.”
It’s better to get the message out now — what expectations are, what the standard is — than three or four weeks into a season that might get off on the wrong foot.
“The thing with coach Reed is he played and he understands players as well as any coaches I’ve ever been around,” said linebacker JC Sherritt. “When he gets like that it’s for a reason. We know we have to step it up. You can’t waste a day out here because BC and Calgary and Montreal and the rest of the CFL is going hard. You have to match them and be better. We have to be better.
“We talk about that Edmonton tradition and it’s something this whole team knows about. Coach Reed isn’t going to let it slip.”
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Fred Stamps opened practice with a bang. The veteran receiver scored touchdowns on two of the first four plays from scrimmage when the Esks opened with some redzone drills.
At the other end of the field later in the day, the offence, running first and goal plays from the 5, finished with three straight drops in the endzone.
Punter Burke Dales was getting all of it during special teams work. The 6-3, 225-pounder from Concordia was routinely hitting 65 yard punts. Even after a bad snap he scooped the ball off the turf and angled one into the corner, 70 yards away.
With three receivers lined up on the left side, QB Kerry Joseph faked a handoff and ran a naked bootleg right. Some great sleight of hand work had the defence biting hard.
DB Denatay Heard made a leaping, turning interception along the sidelines after some miscommunication between QB Matt Nichols and his receiver.
Dobson Collins made a pair of them, over the shoulder grabs in the corner of the endzone, after pin-point throws from Nichols.
The Esks signed free agent Canadian linebacker and long snapper Mike Benson. The 5-10, 235-pounder played college ball at Acadia.