June 17, 2012
Eskimos trim roster
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI AGENCY
EDMONTON - It was bound to catch up to them sooner or later.
The Edmonton Eskimos brought in so much talent to their already impressive receiving corps over the off-season that they left themselves with some inevitable deep cuts to make in training camp.
The first one came Sunday in the form of wide-out Derrick Townsel, who headed up a group of seven hopefuls that was released in the first wave of cuts.
“The league mandated that we get down to 65 players, and we had some tough decisions,” said head coach Kavis Reed. “To be quite honest, I really felt we could have kept all of them.
“Derrick Townsel, we really had high expectations going into (Friday’s) Calgary game. Things didn’t work out. We wanted to give him another opportunity, but the numbers and the sheer competitiveness of this camp didn’t allow us to keep him.”
Townsel and slotback Youssy Pierre were the second and third receivers to be released from camp, following Syndric Steptoe out of town. In total, the Eskimos added eight bodies to the core group of six returning receivers from last season.
The catch-22 is that they will have to see more of a little of that talent walk out the door before their 46-man active roster is finally set.
“Yeah, it had to,” Reed said. “But the biggest thing was to avoid what happened last year after we went to Winnipeg and having four starters out and not having the quality of depth in camp to replace those guys.”
Instead, they air-lifted in Prechae Rodriguez, Ryan Grice-Mullen and Dobson Collins — the only one of the three who stuck through to this year, where he is putting together an impressive training camp.
“We want to make certain that we have a good consistency of guys that we can choose from, hopefully on the practice roster or the reserve, to make certain that we don’t have that situation happen again.”
The other big name announced Sunday was Cory Ross, who was in the running to replace Jerome Messam as the team’s feature running back.
“Unfortunately, he had a little bit of a turf-toe situation, which didn’t allow us to get a very good look at him,” Reed said. “But that’s the luck of the draw.”
Besides Townsel, Pierre and Ross — along with linebackers Mike Benson and Derek Domino, offensive lineman Joe Gibbs and quarterback Brandon Summers — who were released Sunday, the Eskimos also suspended defensive tackle Etienne Legare and receiver/return specialist Yamon Figures.
Figures had been sitting out to mend an injured knee and Legare is missing camp with a throat infection.
“Some guys we feel that they have to go home for personal reasons,” Reed said. “We had a situation (Saturday) where the gentleman needed to go home. We understand that.
“These guys don’t ask for family situations to come up but we have to protect the club and that gives the opportunity to go home and also we keep their rights for when they come back.”
Another cut was made Sunday but has yet to be announced.