EDMONTON — It will be a thoroughly ticked-off Edmonton Eskimos offensive line that takes the field today for their CFL rematch with the Calgary Stampeders.
While they were laughing and having fun at the end of the team’s walk-through Thursday, the linemen said afterwards they are an upset group — angry at their performance for the first 50 minutes of their 37-34 loss in Calgary and further annoyed by comments Monday from general manager Ed Hervey, who called out guard Simeon Rottier.
“When he calls out one guy like that, you have to respond,” Thaddeus Coleman said of Hervey’s comments. “He’s (Rottier) still your brother, he’s still here. But we have to move forward, everybody has to step up. Get a win all this stuff goes away.”
Hervey’s declaration that Rottier would not play today, and he didn’t care if he played again this season, prompted several changes to the line. The 1-8 Eskimos will go an offensive line with three imports, a rarity in the CFL. Tackles Coleman and Cliff Louis and guard Miles Mason are also all rookies.
Head coach Kavis Reed said he can’t remember the Eskimos ever playing three imports on the line but said it’s possible because the team has had the flexibility most of the season. They played an import short the last two weeks so there’s also room for slotback Adarius Bowman to come off the nine-game injury list for Friday’s game against the 7-2 Stamps at Commonwealth Stadium.
Coleman on the left side and centre Alexander Krausnick remain intact. Matt O’Donnell moves from right tackle to left guard, Mason moves from left to the right side and Louis comes back on the roster to play right tackle.
“It’s a new life for us,” O’Donnell said of the distractions and changes this week.
He said that after Monday’s loss, in which quarterback Mike Reilly was sacked seven times and the Eskimos fell behind 37-7 before scoring 27 points in the final eight minutes, the linemen took a hard look at themselves and their performance.
“We owe this team, we owe the offence, we owe the coaches, we owe the fans,” he said.
“We have to stop playing good here, bad there and somewhere in between. We have to come out for 60 minutes every game from now on.”
Coleman said the linemen were both upset, yet a little pleased in the end coming out of Calgary.
“It was half and half. We were pissed off we lost but happy with way we finished,” he said. “You have to be proud about that part, we kept fighting, kept fighting.”
Reed said being upset can work either way, but he sees the line as a microcosm of the character of the Eskimos.
“They have tremendous pride, tremendous character,” said Reed. “I believe regardless of what was said, that group was going to respond positively. I expect, and they expect, a better performance.”
Reed said he truly believe the adjustments “will make us better. I can sleep tonight believing we have made the right adjustments and our players will adjust as well.”
With Bowman and Louis being added to the roster, Donovan Alexander goes on the one-game injury list and defensive back Deanate Purvis was moved to the practice roster.