Eskimos third-string QB Matt Nichols limbering up for Friday

Eskimos third-string quarterback Matt Nichols throws during practice at Commonwealth Stadium in...

Eskimos third-string quarterback Matt Nichols throws during practice at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alta., Sept. 24, 2012. (PERRY MAH/QMI Agency)

CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:41 PM ET

EDMONTON - Fingers off the panic button.

Matt Nichols was taking No. 1 reps at quarterback Monday because the banged-up veterans were resting their sore bodies, not because the Edmonton Eskimos have given up on the rest of the season.

Still, head coach Kavis Reed puts the probability at 50/50 that the sophomore pivot will start against the Calgary Stampeders in Cowtown Friday night.

That probability goes up to 100% if neither last week’s starter, Steven Jyles, or Kerry Joseph reach Reed’s expectation of 95% healthy by Wednesday.

Nichols is expected to take No. 1 reps again on Tuesday.

“Matt is going to take a lot of the reps this week,” said Reed. “If neither Kerry or Steven are able to be at that 95% mark, Matt will get the start.

“Right now, it’s 50-50 because Kerry took some reps on the sidelines. Day 3 is the last day. If those guys are unable to take more than 75% of the reps, it’s Matt Nichols.”

If nothing else, it gives Nichols a chance to get off scout-team duty and a chance for the Eskimos quarterback of the future to work with the team’s No. 1 offence.

“It’s a good opportunity to get some reps with our offence and our receivers,” said Nichols. “I feel comfortable. Obviously, I haven’t had a lot of reps with our offence. Really, just a couple of training camps and a few reps here and there when a quarterback’s banged up.”

After his appearance in Hamilton a couple of weeks ago, Nichols had been taking No. 2 reps last week while Joseph was recuperating.

“In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been getting opportunities to run our stuff in practice and feel a lot more comfortable,” said Nichols. “It’s an opportunity to show them I’m developing the way they want me to. It’s just good for them and myself to take what I’m learning and apply it to the field.

“At this point of the season, it was kinda one of those days where those guys are a little beat up and it’s an opportunity for me go get some reps.”

Nichols managed to get into the Hamilton game for a series a couple of weeks back before he was knocked out of the game with a helmet-to-helmet collision.

Before he got his bell rung, he had a couple of touchdowns called back because of penalties,

That brief debut in pro football made him hungrier to show what he could do. Nichols has remained patient and the circumstances as the week unfolds will dictate if he gets his first CFL start.

“Exactly,” said Nichols. “Everybody knows what this position this team is in and that we need a win. I’m just going to do everything I can do in case it’s called upon me to play.”

Even though it ended abruptly, Nichols said his brief experience in a line-of-fire situation in Hamilton means he wouldn’t be going in cold in case he gets his first pro start.

“It helped me a lot,” said Nichols. “It’s different when you’re just playing in practice, running scout team. When you get in a meaningful situation with live bullets and to be successful, it’s good for my self-confidence and the coach’s confidence in me.

“It was a good thing, but it was only one drive, basically. I felt extremely comfortable on the field and for the first time, it felt like college again. The game really slowed down for me and in that game, I really felt as high a comfort level as I’ve had here.”

Other than getting his bell rung, Nichols is carrying no long-term effects or any post-concussion symptoms.

“I actually woke up sick on game-day and already had a headache,” said Nichols. “Getting hit magnified that. It’s unfortunate because it was a situation where I could have played a little bit more.”

con.griwkowsky@sunmedia.ca


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