Sorting out the Eskimos receivers

 

I mean listen, we’re sitting here talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, but we’re talking about practice.” – Allen Iverson

The above quote by Allen Iverson (you can find the whole hilarious interview here), pretty sums up the rest of training camp for the Edmonton Eskimos. The pre-season games are done, and for those who were given a chance to shine and didn’t, the remaining practices that the Eskimos have before they start releasing players probably won’t do much to change the minds of the coaches on who stays and who gets to enjoy their summer here.

Prior to the season, the Eskimos found themselves in a very enviable position when it came to their receiving corps. Stacked at import talent. Stacked at non-import talent. Heck, they were even stacked in the coaching department. Now they have to start making decisions, and it is inevitable that there will be some unpopular choices that will be made. If player X gets cut, his fans will be screaming about how there is no way that player Y should be on the roster. And it goes from there.

Locks

There is only one. Frederick Paul Stamps Junior. Stamps led the league last year in receiving. That is all that needs to be said. You don’t cut the league leader and expect to keep your job in the morning. Now let’s move on to the interesting part.

Contenders

The Eskimos have typically in the past carried between seven or eight receivers on their roster. Assuming they go with eight, you now have seven spots left to pass around. Jason Barnes probably did the most of any receiver to lock down a spot on the roster with a tremendous pre-season. We have already talked about him both here and on Esks.com, so let’s move on to the other imports.

Skyler Green, Kelly Campbell, Efrem Hill, and Jamaica Rector are the prime candidates to fill the other remaining chairs in the football version of musical chairs. The problem is that all four have great skill and can play in the CFL. One would have to give a leg up to Green because of his versatility in returning kicks, so count him as one more on the roster. Unless the Eskimos stash someone on the injured reserve list, at least one of Campbell, Hill, and Rector will be allowed to seek employment elsewhere.

So who do you take? Everyone remembers what Kelly Campbell can do on a CFL field with his speed, while Hill and Rector certainly have proven that they can be efficient players as well at stretching the field. It’s a difficult question, and one that management will certainly have to think through before they let a guy go that could come back to burn them.

As for the non-imports, it sounds like it will either be Kamau Peterson or Andre Talbot that makes the roster. Not both. The favourite has to be Peterson because of his history with the team and the fact that he has achieved at a higher level than Talbot. Andrew Nowacki, unless he has a cap number that leads the Eskimos to go with a cheaper option, should also be on the team. He is dependable, consistent, and versatile. In the CFL, that means a roster spot.

That leaves Brad Smith, Kevin Challenger, and Kevin Wuthrich all competing for one spot. Judging by their play in the pre-season, it seems like Brad Smith presents the best option for the Eskimos to continue to develop non-import talent. He showed he can catch the ball in tight situations and cutting both Talbot and Smith, who were acquired from Toronto for defensive tackle Eric Taylor, would not make a lot of organizational sense. The Esks need to get some type of return in that trade, and cutting both of the players acquired is not the way to do it.

Pretenders

Tremayne Kirkland and Kelton Tindall, despite showing some nice skill in training camp, become victims of the numbers game. By all accounts, it sounds like Kirkland did show some ability in the return game, but with Tristan Jackson, Weldon Brown, and Green on the roster, how many return guys does a team need? The Eskimos may choose to keep Kirkland around on the practice squad, but as for a position on the active roster, not a chance.

So what gives

The Eskimos will probably not rush making a decision, and considerations like injury status and salary cap numbers will certainly play their part, but the fact remains that some very talented receivers will not be in the Green & Gold uniform by the time the Eskimos kick-off the regular season against the BC Lions on July 4th. We’ll throw a bit of blind dart and say that when the music stops, the Eskimos will have Stamps, Barnes, Green, Hill, Campbell, Peterson, Nowacki, and Smith on the roster in some way, shape, or form. It may be a prediction that is completely off, but hey, this what we do as fans.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: