You couldn’t help but notice the smiling faces of players and coaches who walked off The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium on Thursday afternoon.
After almost three weeks of training camp which included two games in 11 days, the Edmonton Eskimos officially ended camp with a mock game.
A massive roster turnover led to many questions about this new-look Eskimos team. Head coach Jason Maas says he believes his group passed the first test by coming together and working hard.
“Great effort all camp. We talked at the beginning about wanting to be a close-knit group at the end of training camp and I think they accomplished that goal,” Maas said.
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“We also said let everything be what we look at as players on the field. Don’t look at anything off the field get you out of here so let’s become Eskimos and I thought they all did and I wanted to congratulate them on that. Then it’s reality, we’re going from 97 players down to 46 and 10 (practice roster) so they know the numbers.”
The coaching staff and the player personnel department, led by general manager Brock Sunderland, will now pour over the film on Friday and Saturday to decide on who stays and who goes.
Final cuts from CFL teams need to be in to the league by 8 p.m. MT Saturday. Maas says Thursday’s mock game will go a long way in deciding the final roster.
“We’re going to watch this first. There were still some things on the line here today and we have a couple of question marks. We have to go upstairs and see how they got answered,” Maas said.
“We ran 60 plays today to decipher that so the team will be made by this practice, the other ones, and the two games.”
Listen below: Eskimos head coach Jason Maas on the team’s effort throughout training camp and the process of cutting down the roster by 8 p.m. Saturday
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The offence, led by new starting quarterback Trevor Harris, gave a glimpse of what they could be capable of this season, managing to put the ball in the end zone and hitting on some big plays against an aggressive defence.
“Yeah, that was big for us today,” Harris said. “We’re finding completions, we’re operating and we’re finding the end zone. Our defence is no slouch, they are going to be a top-three defence in the league this year. They are, personnel-wise, as good as there is whenever you have Phillip Lolley (defensive coordinator) leading the charge. We’re going to be tough to handle on defence.”
Listen below: Eskimos quarterback Trevor Harris was pleased with what the offence accomplished in the mock game against a tough defence
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The focus will shift on Monday to game preparation, as the Eskimos host the Montreal Alouettes next Friday in their regular season and home opener, which excites new linebacker Don Unamba.
“I’ve been waiting for this day. I felt like training camp just was dragging so now it’s time for all the boys to really put it together and it’s going to be for real now,” Unamba said.
“I’m excited, my juices are already flowing and I can’t wait to get out there and actually put my first game on for Edmonton, team and the fans and give them something to look forward to.”
Listen below: Eskimos linebacker Don Unamba is happy to finally turn the page from training camp to the regular season
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International wide receiver Ron’quavion Tarver
International defensive lineman Trenton Thompson
International offensive lineman Andrew Peterson
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