Matt Nichols gets the call for Friday, with Mike Reilly starting against B.C.

Matt Nichols and Mike Reilly walk off the field following practice last week at Commonwealth...

Matt Nichols and Mike Reilly walk off the field following practice last week at Commonwealth Stadium. (David Bloom, Edmonton Sun)

Gerry Moddejonge, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:33 AM ET

EDMONTON - The Edmonton Eskimos have named their starting quarterback … for Friday, anyway.

While Matt Nichols will take the honours of leading his team onto the field at Commonwealth Stadium to open the preseason against the Saskatchewan Roughriders (7 p.m., TSN), it’s still anyone’s job.

And, regardless of who is up first Friday, head coach Kavis Reed will give similar snaps to Mike Reilly as he looks for his starter heading into the regular season.

“We felt that this is an opportunity to get more information on the quarterbacks, not just during the game, but before the game,” the coach said. “It’s not just the stats that’s going to determine who is the quarterback, we’re going to look for who is the best leader.

“Who’s the best teammate? Who handles adverse situations the best? We’re going to look for that person who is the next quarterback for this franchise, hopefully for the long-term. Who is best-suited all-around to be that guy?”

And Nichols will get the first chance to respond Friday.

“I think it’s big. It is here at home in Commonwealth where I started a game last year,” said Nichols, who made three starts, including one in the preseason, in 2012 — all of which came against the Calgary Stampeders. “Overall, it’s just exciting to take this field with your team, play in front of the home crowd.”

Which Reilly will also get the opportunity to do prior to next week’s kickoff in Vanvouver against his former B.C. Lions teammates.

“Obviously, we were going to give Mike the start in B.C.,” said Reed, who has alternated between using Nichols and Reilly throwing first each day throughout training camp.

But Reilly isn’t thinking about that, or worrying about who happens to be starting in the preseason.

“My job is to come in whenever they tell me to and come in and run the plays,” said Reilly. “I don’t think there’s necessarily symbolism to either game. Both games are important, but in different ways.

“The second game is clearly closer to the regular season, so some of the veterans will play a little more in that game.”

Whereas Friday’s will see big guns like Fred Stamps, Hugh Charles, Marcus Howard, Almondo Sewell, J.C. Sherritt and T.J. Hill kept in the holster while backups battle for roster spots.

While there are other starting roles still up for grabs in the secondary, the quarterbacks have stolen the spotlight so far.

“We’re both going to play in this game, we’re both probably going to play in the next one,” Nichols said. “Every time you get an opportunity to play, you just need to go in and try and lead your team, be successful and be efficient.”

Doing it in training camp is one thing.

“There are defensive linemen and linebackers running around, but they can’t hit you,” Nichols said. “So it’s just a little bit different feel playing in a game. I just need to be able to go in and handle it.

“It will just be one of those things where we get a chance of getting in there with live bullets after seven months of not seeing it.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SunModdejonge


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