The Edmonton Eskimos' quarterback shuffle

The defence closes in on Eskimos quarterback hopeful Jonathan Crompton during Sunday's practise in...

The defence closes in on Eskimos quarterback hopeful Jonathan Crompton during Sunday's practise in Spruce Grove (Codie McLachlan, Edmonton Sun).

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:41 PM ET

EDMONTON - The Edmonton Eskimos don’t yet know the extent of the injury to quarterback Matt Nichols’s knee, but they do know one thing: the preseason show must go on.

With Nichols on crutches as a result of taking a hit from Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive end Kenny Rowe in Friday’s 31-24 preseason loss, the Eskimos training camp competition over the starting quarterback spot defaults to Mike Reilly.

But that changes nothing for this week, at least, considering head coach Kavis Reed had already announced Reilly will start Friday’s preseason game against his former B.C. Lions teammates.

“I’ve felt like it’s been my ball since Day 1, I’m sure Matt’s felt like it’s been his ball too,” Reilly said Sunday from the field at Fuhr Sports Park in Spruce Grove. “Obviously all of us are hoping for the best for Matt, but in that situation, it doesn’t change my mindset at all.

“I planned from Day 1 that I signed here to be the starter, so I don’t have to change the way that I approach the game now.”

It’s a different story, however, for the team, which pins all its hopes at the quarterback position to start the year on one player instead of two. Along with all the accompanying pressure.

“I think it will increase,” Reed agreed. “I think the lights will be a little bit brighter now because he will probably get a little bit more reps. He’s going back to Vancouver against guys that are familiar with him and he knows for sure, right now, that he’s the starter and that that situation’s going to probably bear true come Week 3 and 4 when we play B.C. again.

“Right now, we’ll look at Mike as the No. 1 guy and try to make certain that we sort out the guys behind him.”

Meaning Kerry Joseph will set down the clipboard to take at least a few snaps this week against the Lions, while things have become a lot more interesting in the backup battle between Jacory Harris and Jonathan Crompton.

“Regardless of the extent of Matt’s injury, those guys were vying for a position anyhow,” Reed said. “I don’t see anything changing for them.”

Except for the spot they are competing for may have just been promoted to the active 46-man roster if Nichols ends up on injured reserve.

“It is an opportunity, but at the same time, you really don’t want to see guys get injured,” said Jacory Harris, the only quarterback playing Friday who didn’t give up an interception. “(Matt’s) a great guy, he’s someone who helped me in mini-camp on April 9 when we were down in Florida.

“He made sure I knew everything and helped me and helped me get adjusted. CFL is new to me. It’s unfortunate, but at the same time, it is an opportunity for us young guys to get in there and display the things that we can bring to this team.”

Like the athleticism and decision-making that saw Harris leap over Roughriders linebacker Anthony Heygood for a seven-yard scamper into the end zone Friday to lead 21-17 after three quarters.

Crompton, meanwhile, has no trouble delivering the deep ball and will be interesting to watch if he gets a chance to work with the first-team receivers who are able to catch up to them.

“Coach makes the play calls, we just go out there and run them,” said the Tennessee Volunteers product, whose time behind centre Friday was entertaining, if not bearing the most resemblance to the type of offence the Eskimos boasted a decade ago. “We’re all out here trying to compete as a team. We’re trying to make each other better.

“Luckily, I got to throw it a bit and get a couple runs in. We all had a good time.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SunModdejonge


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