Als struggle in Edmonton

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

EDMONTON - Commonwealth Stadium has been blissfully ignorant when it comes to the Montreal Alouettes.

While the rest of the CFL recognizes the defending champions as the Beast from the East, who have consistently challenged for Grey Cups over the last decade, the Edmonton Eskimos stomping grounds have led to boot-downs like the 33-19 result in their last visit.

“We played well that game but that was over a year ago,” said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall. “The past is history, you learn from it: how can you move forward and become a better team? The last time they were here, they lost a football game but also (went on to become) Grey Cup champions, but that was 2009.”

Going back even further, the Alouettes are 0-3 in their last visits, and have dropped five of their last six.

“We didn’t look real championship when we went down there,” Hall said of last year’s 50-16 loss, which happened three weeks earlier in Game 2.

“We played hard in the first three quarters and all of a sudden in that fourth quarter the bottom fell out,” Hall said. “We play well here, but we need to play even better for us to be successful.”

The Eskimos welcome the home-field advantage.

“Montreal is more of an intimidating place to play. They play really well at home and not so well on the road,” said Eskimos safety Elliott Richardson.

“We played so well (last time) that they pulled (Anthony) Calvillo. That might have been our biggest victory of the year in terms of points.”

And in terms of morale, the victory gave the Eskimos a big boost after a slow start last season.

“After that, we started to surge back to first place in the West at that point. Hopefully we can use Montreal as another stepping stone. They’re coming here hungry as well. They just lost to Saskatchewan on the road. They don’t want to start 0-2 and neither do we. We’re both really good teams and it’s an 18-game year but the last thing we want to do is fall behind the 8-ball early.”

For the Alouettes, it was a case of too little, too late in their season-opening 54-51 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in a game that has been tagged as the Instant Classic.

“Last week, I wouldn’t say that they were exposed but they didn’t play to the level that they have been accustomed to playing, giving up as many points as they did,” Hall said.

“So you know they’re going to come in with a little vengeance, but at the same time we’re coming in with a little vengeance just because of our performance last week. I look at it as two teams going at it, two very good teams both 0-1 trying to get that first victory of the season.”

IN AND OUT: DE Justin Cooper filled in for Kai Ellis, who spent practice resting on the sidelines, but is expected to start Sunday.

“One of the things we talked about in the off-season is the odd day to give Kai a rest,” said Hall.

“This isn’t unexpected as far as coming into this season, and probably in the next couple of weeks you’ll see him sitting again.”

The Eskimos added non-import FS James Green to their practice squad.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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