New-look Eskimos kick off regular season Friday night against Alouettes
Feb. 12 marked the opening day of free agency in the CFL. For the Edmonton Eskimos, it marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.
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After six seasons with the green and gold, quarterback Mike Reilly left for the B.C. Lions. A short time later, a new starting quarterback entered the picture in Trevor Harris along with eight other players named Ellingson, Rogers, Daniels, Collins Jr., Dean, Unamba, Santos-Knox and Orange.
Four months later, the new-look Eskimos will make their regular season debut as they host the Montreal Alouettes on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium Friday night.
The Eskimos countered losing Reilly with Trevor Harris, who is coming off his first 5,000-yard passing season (5,116) and helped the Ottawa Redblacks to the Grey Cup in Edmonton last November.
Also coming over is Harris’ favourite target in receiver Greg Ellingson, who has reached the 1,000 yard mark in receiving for four straight seasons. Ellingson says he’s looking forward to starting a new chapter in green and gold.
“It’s already getting a little bit exciting, starting to feel like that game-day mode,” Ellingson said. “You know, I think we’re just going to go out there and show what the ‘Eskimo way’ is like this year.
“We’ve been talking about it in the locker room and how we’ve been practicing. We’re going to try and put our best foot forward with the way we play and the intensity we play with game in and game out.”
Listen below: Eskimos head coach Jason Maas says Trevor Harris is ready for the pressure of becoming the Eskimos new starting QB
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On defence, there’s a new defensive coordinator in Phillip Lolley, who returns to Edmonton after spending the 2014 and 2015 seasons as the Eskimos linebackers coach.
Leading the charge is the 2018 Eastern Division nominee for Most Outstanding Defensive Player who finished fourth in the CFL last season in defensive tackles with 105 and defensive plays 113. Don Unamba joins Dean in the Eskimos linebacking corps. Last season’s co-leader in interceptions from 2018, Anthony Orange, comes over from the B.C. Lions where he recorded five interceptions along with eight pass knockdowns.
A few other high-profile free-agent signings won’t play on Friday — starting with offensive lineman Sir Vincent Rogers who suffered a torn tricep in training camp and is on the six-game injured list. Linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox and receiver Davaris Daniels find themselves on the one-game injured list, as does defensive end Alex Bazzie.
The following is the projected offensive and defensive starters for the Eskimos:
Quarterback: Trevor Harris
Running Back: C.J. Gable (Fullback: Calvin McCarty)
Offensive Line: Tommie Draheim-Jacob Ruby-David Beard-Matt O’Donnell-Colin Kelly
Receivers: Kenny Stafford-Ricky Collins Jr.-Natey Adjei-Greg Ellingson-Tevaun Smith
Defensive Line: Kwaku Boateng-Almondo Sewell-Mike Moore-Nick Usher
Linebackers: Vontae Diggs-Larry Dean-Don Unamba
Defensive Backs: Anthony Orange-Josh Johnson-Money Hunter-Forrest Highttower-Godfrey Onyeka
A look at the Alouettes
The Montreal Alouettes have had a eventful last few weeks. On May 31, the CFL took control of the franchise as they pursue new ownership.
Last Saturday, general manager Kavis Reed fired head coach Mike Sherman after one season and replaced him with current offensive coordinator Khari Jones. The Alouettes haven’t made the playoffs since the 2014 season, compiling a record of 21-51 over the last four years.
The Eskimos have a personal 10-game winning streak against the Alouettes.
The Eskimos will also honour former receiver Fred Stamps at halftime during a retirement ceremony.
Watch below: Four-time CFL all-star receiver Fred Stamps is back on the Edmonton Eskimos roster, but just for one day. He signed the contract to officially retire from professional football as a member of the green and gold. Kevin Karius sits down with Stamps ahead of Friday’s game.
Stamps signed a one-day contract in the off-season to officially retire as a member of the Eskimos. Stamps led the CFL in receiving yards for five straight seasons from 2009 to 2013 and is a five-time Western Division All-Star and four-time CFL All-Star.
Stamps is second on the Eskimos All-Time list in receiving yards (7,932), most 1,000-yard seasons and consecutive 1,000-yard seasons (five) and third all-time in receptions (496).
Edmonton Eskimos’ Fred Stamps (2) celebrates a touchdown against the Toronto Argonauts during first half action in Edmonton, Alta., on Saturday September 28, 2013.
Listen below: Former Eskimos receiver Fred Stamps speaks about his return to Edmonton for his retirement ceremony on Friday night.
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You can catch Friday’s regular season opener between the Eskimos and Alouettes on 630 CHED starting with Countdown to Kick-off at 5:30 p.m.
The opening kick-off on the Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium will be at 7 p.m. with Morley Scott and Dave Campbell calling all of the live action.
Plus, hear analysis from former Eskimos offensive lineman and two-time Grey Cup champion Blake Dermott. Brenden Escott will be reporting from the Eskimos sidelines.
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