Eskimos D-line CFL's sack leader

Eskimos defensive lineman Almondo Sewell, shown here chasing down Argonauts QB Ricky Ray in the...

Eskimos defensive lineman Almondo Sewell, shown here chasing down Argonauts QB Ricky Ray in the season opener, is third in the league with three sacks so far this season. (Codie McLachlan, QMI Agency)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:11 PM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos defence will be doing its best impression of a valve on Friday.

As in, taking pressure off quarterback Steven Jyles by putting it squarely on B.C. Lions pivot Travis Lulay.

Edmonton’s defence comes into this week with a league-leading 11 sacks — a figure they will look to increase at BC Place Stadium on Friday (8 p.m., TSN, 630 CHED).

“We’ve got a lot of good talent up front,” said Eskimos assistant head coach Kit Lathrop, who oversees the defensive line. “The guys come off the ball, they have quick get-offs and they’re good.”

But corralling the fleet-footed and strong-armed Lulay could be their biggest challenge of the season, so far.

“Lulay’s the difference maker,” Lathrop said. “He makes their O-line a whole lot better.”

The best, in fact, when it comes to having given up a league-low three sacks, averaging just one allowed per game this season while Edmonton is earning a CFL-best 3.7.

Making Friday’s clash along the line of scrimmage a meeting between an unstoppable force and an immovable object.

The problem is, even if the Eskimos front seven are able to move through the Lions protection, they will still have to catch up to the nimble Lulay to stop him.

“You’ve just got to be aware of where he is a little bit more than a straight pocket guy who doesn’t have the mobility that he has,” Lathrop said. “It’s hard because on one hand you say: ‘Keep him in the pocket,’ and on the other hand, you say: ‘Go get him.’

“It’s a double-edged sword.”

Leading the charge for the Eskimos out of the gates this season is defensive lineman Almondo Sewell, who is averaging a sack a game and currently sits third among league leaders with three.

After that, the other eight sacks are spread around with defensive tackles Ted Laurent and Donny Oramasionwu earning a pair apiece and even defensive halfback Weldon Brown chasing a quarterback down last week.

“The key for us up front is to have three or four guys who are dominating,” Lathrop said, instead of relying on a rush-end type of player. “It takes some pressure off Marcus (Howard) when Juice (Julius Williams) is playing good.

“And when Sewell is playing good, it takes the pressure off the next guy, so it all works together.”

And, right now, Sewell is playing so well.

“We set the bar (high) altogether as one unit,” said the versatile six-foot-one, 295-pound Akron product, who played in three games before getting injured and released by the Eskimos last season. “It isn’t just me, I’m just going off of what our defence is feeding off of.

“Our interior is doing pretty good right now. The ends, it’s only a matter of time before Julius and Marcus start taking off, so we’re trying to get a head start on them.”

IN AND OUT: The Eskimos are looking to make room on their roster to bring in another return man to help carry the load with DB Joe Burnett, who is currently returning kickoffs and punts while drawing in on the defence as a starting cornerback. LT Orrin Thompson (knee) returned to his place on the offensive line sporting a new brace and is expected to play Friday. However, WR Chris Carr (ankle) and LB Clint Kent (knee) are not.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

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