Eskimos front seven a bright spot

Edmonton's run defence earned top marks during Friday's preseason game (PERRY NELSON/QMI Agency)

Edmonton's run defence earned top marks during Friday's preseason game (PERRY NELSON/QMI Agency)

CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:53 AM ET

EDMONTON - Football can throw plenty of curve balls into the best-laid plans.

When the Edmonton Eskimos resume preparations for the 2013 CFL season Sunday at Fuhr Sports Field in Spruce Grove, plenty of question marks remain.

That’s the nature of training camp.

Rookies will have four more days to impress the coaching staff. Veterans will be looking over their shoulders.

“The evaluation process is tremendously important,” said head coach Kavis Reed. “Obviously, we’ll play all our starters next week, barring injury and make certain what we plan to be on June 29 (season opener vs. Saskatchewan), we’ll show next week.”

They’ll have to carry on without quarterback Matt Nichols and highly-touted kick returner Tavoy Moore, who were nicked up in Friday’s game.

Moore will undergo an MRI next week to determine the extent of his knee injury. No word yet on the status of Nichols.

Since the injuries will keep both players on the sidelines, their misfortune will be other players’ opportunities.

One area Reed felt comfortable about was the front seven. Even with starters JC Sherritt, T.J. Hill and Marcus Howard watching from the sidelines, the unit did not lose a step in an error-filled outing.

Reed singled out linebacker Donovan Richard for having an exceptional game.

Rennie Curran could be another linebacker that’ll be hard to keep off the roster.

With three linebackers on the CFL’s top nine tackles list last year, the area now has an overabundance of talent.

“I general, we played well on the defensive front,” said Reed. “We expected our defensive front to play very well and they did a tremendous job.

“They were given a lot of adverse situations in terms of turnovers and field position. They responded very well. They stopped the run pretty well. There were some contain issues that we can correct, but I’m very pleased with the way our front four played and the way the linebacking corps played.”

The scoreboard showed Saskatchewan scored 31 points, but the defence kept the ’Riders out of the end zone until the last minute.

“We expected to be a very solid defence and those guys did a good job,” said Reed. “We created turnovers, we scored one ourselves off a turnover. Those guys are very familiar with creating turnovers. They did a good job last year. I believe we led the league in turnovers for touchdowns.

“We picked up where we left off and I expect we’ll be solid again this year.”

Reed pointed out there were plenty of teachable moments in the play of the secondary.

Naturally, the offence will continue to be a work in progress.

None of the future quarterbacks have an abundance of game-day experience. There were plenty of issues about some members of the receiving corps and Reed went out of his way to put the blame where it belonged.

“We’ve got to make certain our concentration plays, such as receivers catching balls and not having dropped balls is something we definitely have to work on,” said Reed. “Big plays can’t go by the wayside because we didn’t execute them.”

That means there could be some overtime in store for receivers coach Travis Moore.

Not everybody has the breakaway speed of Isaiah Sweeney, so making ball protection should be a priority this upcoming week.

“The story was a matter of turnovers and missed opportunities,” said Reed. “We turned the ball over and that accounted for two (pick six) touchdowns.”

con.griwkowsky@sunmedia.ca


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