Roster Moves Could be the Difference

 With the release of Efrem Hill earlier this week, combined with some injury replacements, it will be incumbent on some different players to get the job done on Saturday when the Eskimos face off against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Players that have had to wait on the sidelines know only too well how difficult it is to make the active game day roster, much less start, and all of those below will be looking to make the most of their opportunity to prove to the coaching staff that they should be permanent fixtures on the field.

Jason Barnes, SB

Barnes played exceptionally well in the pre-season, and his assignment on the reserve roster surprised most fans heading into the regular season. The makeup of the Eskimos receiving corps at the time dictated the move as the team was stacked with players they classified as slotbacks on the depth chart with only Hill, Andrew Nowacki,Kevin Wuthrich, and Tremayne Kirkland as wide receivers. With Wuthrich and Kirkland being practice roster players, that left only Hil and Nowacki as starters. The release of Hill immediately makes room for Barnes to come back onto the active roster and it sounds like the coaches are now willing to move players around to get the best receivers possible on the field. Barnes brings a little bit of size, at six-foot-three, to a receiving corps where every other players stands six-feet or shorter.

Jamaica Rector, SB

It looks like Rector is going from the street straight to the active roster as the coaching staff have decided to shake up the roster even further by sitting down return man Skyler Green, although to be fair to Green, it appears that the return man is suffering from a little bit of an ankle injury. With the Eskimos dressing Rector, it could also mean more field time for running back Calvin McCarty, which wouldn’t be a bad thing based on how he played in the pre-season. Rector could also factor into the return game, although it is anticipated that back-up defensive back Weldon Brown will most likely be the go to guy on special teams.

Rod Davis, LB

Since making the Esks out of training camp last year, Davis has always been one injury away from being in the starting lineup. When Mark Restelli went down with a knee injury last week, Davis stepped right in to take his place and played quite well. He recorded five tackles against Montreal and was strong in pursuing Alouette ball carriers. Davis showed that he can also make big plays as he had two interceptions in limited playing time last year.

 Weldon Brown, DB

With Green out of the lineup, it will most likely fall to Weldon Brown to return punts and kickoffs. We have also discussed Brown’s merits as a potential safety here, but the former Louisiana Tech Bulldog’s greatest asset to the Eskimos is probably his speed and ability to run back kicks. In the pre-season, Brown had six kickoff return for a total of 156 yards, an average of  26 yards per return. He fights for extra yards and could be only one or two blocks away from returning one all the way.

Will it make a difference?

Here’s hoping. The Eskimos first game of the season was a complete write-off, however, against Montreal it could easily be argued that they were only a couple of plays away from winning the game, and we are not just talking about the drops by Kelly Campbell and Fred Stamps. What would have happened if Skyler Green had been able to break loose for a big punt return? Or what if Efrem Hill had been able to make a couple of receptions in the first half? We might not be talking about these replacements, and the Eskimos might be 1-1.

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