The Edmonton Eskimos were the busiest team when ‘free agency’ started back in February. Already knowing Mike Reilly would be returning to the B.C. Lions, they went out and signed QB Trevor Harris, SB Greg Ellingson, WR DaVaris Daniels, OL SirVincent Rogers, LB Larry Dean, LB Don Unamba, LB Jovan Santos-Knox and CB Anthony Orange. It changed the look of the team immediately and all eyes would be on training camp to see how things unfold.
It has been an interesting first few days of camp as players were looking to show the coaching staff what they could do. Trevor Harris has looked sharp early in camp as has Ellingson and Daniels. With the Eskimos losing most of their receiving corps to the NFL and free agency, it is imperative Harris establishes a good repertoire with all of his receivers. Kenny Stafford has also looked good which gives his quarterback another target.
Jason Maas has always been a proponent of a ‘balanced’ offensive attack and with all of the running backs from last season returning for 2019, things look very promising. C.J. Gable and Shaq Cooper have looked very good at camp so far and their different styles of running (power versus quickness) should give opposition defenses a lot to prepare for.
One of the battles I have been paying close attention to at camp so far is for the backup quarterback position. The depth chart currently has Danny O’Brien in that spot, but I have been impressed with Logan Kilgore. Kilgore appears to have the stronger arm and smoother delivery, but the real test for these two will be what they can do when they get a chance to play under game conditions. Although the Eskimos have five quarterbacks in camp, I expect the majority of the playing time to go to four. With only two games in the preseason, it will be interesting to see who plays in which games.
One of the things I like to do at training camp is watch the kickers. They often are off by themselves doing their thing and this year there is a third player in camp. His name is Gregory Hutchins a 6’ 4” 210 pound kicker from the UBC Thunderbirds. So far he has shown good leg strength on kickoffs which has been allowing Sean Whyte and Hugh O’Neill to focus on place kicking and punting respectively.
Although final cuts will not be made until June 7th, the Eskimos will play both of their preseason games within six days! Looking at the schedule, it shows FIVE teams will not have taken the field yet, but the Eskimos will be done playing their games! Something similar happened last year as well and I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.