Holmes leaves a hole

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

HAMILTON -- The Edmonton Eskimos have already received the first break of tomorrow night's game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Corey Holmes -- the runner-up for the CFL's 2005 Most Outstanding Player award -- will not play because of a MCL sprain, leaving a huge hole on a team that is struggling to find the end zone.

Hamilton hasn't scored a touchdown in three games.

"We haven't had that many big plays this year from guys, and he has shown in the last couple of weeks that he is capable of making big plays, and then we lose him," said Hamilton head coach Ron Lancaster.

In each of the last two games, Holmes had topped the 100-yard rushing mark and had averaged nearly 12 yards per reception out of the backfield.

But while losing Holmes is another untimely blow to the Tabbies, the knee ligament injury might actually help the franchise in the long run.

Hamilton general manager Marcel Desjardins confirmed yesterday that he had heard from some teams interested in acquiring Holmes before next Tuesday's trade deadline.

Specific teams weren't named, but every team in the league -- including Edmonton -- has probably been interested at some point this year in the dynamic running back/receiver/kick returner.

But now that Holmes is injured and could be on the shelf for the rest of the month, interest will likely begin to drop.

"Had he not been hurt the whole dynamics are probably a little different because some teams are more sure to be in the playoffs than others," remarked Desjardins.

"And the other teams -- now that (Holmes) is out two to four weeks -- they would need him for that time period to try to make that push (to the post season)."

Another factor involved in Holmes' situation is the fact he's a free agent at the end of the year.

Hamilton would love to keep him at the right price -- and Holmes also appears eager.

"Next year we could come back and win the Grey Cup and this season will be forgotten about," he stated.

But the first hurdle to be cleared is Tuesday night's trade deadline.

FINISH LINES: Newly signed RB Jesse Lumsden probably won't play tomorrow, according to Lancaster. But roster changes can be made until tomorrow afternoon.


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