Edmonton Eskimos' quarterback Mike Reilly

Eskimos look to improve in 2015

The Edmonton Eskimos made great strides last season, improving from a disastrous 4-14 in 2013 to a much more respectable 12-6 under new head coach Chris Jones. With very few changes to the roster and stability in the coaching ranks, the team hopes to take further steps forward in 2015.

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Eskimos made great strides last season, improving from a disastrous 4-14 in 2013 to a much more respectable 12-6 under new head coach Chris Jones.

With very few changes to the roster and stability in the coaching ranks, the team hopes to take further steps forward in 2015.

“They know who their coaches are and what to expect at practice,” said Jones, who received a contract extension at the start of training camp. “We expect to win every football game, that’s how we approach it. Some people may say that’s not realistic, not reality, but we expect to win every single football game. We know we are going to be competitive. We know we are going to play hard. We expect to be very competitive week in and week out.”

There are a few changes. Fred Stamps was dealt to Montreal for fellow receiver Kenny Stafford and the offensive line will look a different with Matt O’Donnell signing with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals and Simeon Rottier injured. Coming back to the fold as free agents are former Eskimos linemen Greg Wojt (Hamilton) and Alexander Krausnick (Ottawa).

Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly said that while a few tweaks have been made by general manage Ed Hervey, the stability in the lineup makes the Eskimos much better on paper for the 2015 season.

“We didn’t lose key pieces from last year’s team,” he said. “We still have a big core from last year and we have brought in guys to supplement that and fill the needs that we found out that we had last year. You always want this season to be better than the one before and that having that extra year under your belt will help you play smarter, faster and better.

“We had a pretty young team last year and all of those guys are back. The veteran guys that we do have are young for veterans. I think we are going to progress and get better. Last year wasn’t good enough. We have to get better. I think we do have a better team, but it remains to be seen.”

Perhaps the biggest question mark for Edmonton is at running back, with John White going down in pre-season with a ruptured left Achilles tendon that will keep him out for the entire year.

The Eskimos will hope to fill the void with former Winnipeg running back Chad Simpson and rookie Shakir Bell, who is starting the season on the practice roster.

“It’s a huge loss,” Reilly said. “But he’s not coming back this season and there is nothing we can do about that. The guys who have come in, we feel really good about. I’m really happy with where Chad (Simpson) is at physically and will be ready to go for the beginning of the season. Shakir Bell still has a lot to learn as any other rookie would, but I do think he will help our team win some games this year.”

Reilly is coming off a late-season foot injury that he gamely attempted to play on in last year’s Western Final loss to Calgary.

While he only played one series in the Eskimos’ two pre-season victories, the Edmonton quarterback said he is feeling just fine.

“I feel good. I feel healthy. I feel in shape. I’m ready to go,” he said.

The Eskimos begin the season on Saturday, June 27 against the Ricky Ray-less Toronto Argonauts in what is officially a road game, despite the match-up being played in Fort McMurray in northern Alberta.

Just Posted

WATCH: UCP leader Jason Kenney makes stop in Red Deer

A rally was held in the north end of the city Saturday afternoon

Good-bye ice and snow, hello potholes on Red Deer roads

City workers will be spending 20 hours a day on various road repairs

Fog advisory in effect for Red Deer, central Alberta

Heavy fog is affecting visibility for central Alberta drivers Saturday morning. A… Continue reading

Climate change’s impact on outdoor hockey discussed in Red Deer

Red Deer River Watershed Alliance held a forum Friday at the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame

Collision between Red Deer transit bus and truck investigated by RCMP

No one on bus was hurt, truck driver had minor injuries

WATCH: Fashion show highlights Cree designers

The fashion show was part of a Samson Cree Nation conference on MMIW

Montreal priest stabbed during mass leaves hospital; suspect to be charged

MONTREAL — A Catholic priest who was stabbed as he was celebrating… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $35.7 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $35.7 million jackpot… Continue reading

New report details impact of proposed NS spaceport in event of explosion or fire

HALIFAX — The head of a company proposing to open Canada’s only… Continue reading

Quebec man convicted in Mafia-linked conspiracy deported to Italy

MONTREAL — Michele Torre, a Quebec man convicted in 1996 for his… Continue reading

Republican Karl Rove says conservatives need more than simplistic slogans

OTTAWA — Legendary Republican campaign strategist Karl Rove, known for his no-holds-barred… Continue reading

B.C. hospital’s use as shelter ‘clarion call’ about housing crisis, says mayor

The 10-bed regional hospital that serves the medical needs of 5,000 people… Continue reading

Puddle splashing: A rite of spring

Is there anything more fun than driving through water-filled potholes in the… Continue reading

Special evaluations can help seniors cope with cancer care

Before she could start breast cancer treatment, Nancy Simpson had to walk… Continue reading

Most Read