Taking a look at the Esks Canadian Talent



A comment was made by an executive from another CFL team a couple of weeks ago that the Esks have the worst bunch of Canadian players in the league. As part of a 2-9 team, there may be a valid point when speaking about what should be a key component to the team. Blanket statements aside, looking at the players individually might point out some weaknesses and, dare we say, strengths of this group of players. Incoming GM Eric Tillman has identified this as his number one priority in rebuilding the football team.

Gamers

The Gamers group are players who have shown that they can compete in the CFL and contribute on a regular basis over the past two seasons.

Calvin McCarty (RB) – One of the better Canadian running backs in the CFL when healthy. Key in that phrase would be the word “healthy”. For the second straight season, McCarty has struggled to stay healthy and has been inconsistent in his performance on the field. That being said, he’s still a pretty valuable member of the team.

Andre Talbot (SB) – One of the few non-imports that has played well this season. The problem with Talbot is that the Eskimos offense hasn’t kept him involved enough.

Elliott Richardson (S) – Tough break early in the year put the starting safety on the nine-game IR. He played well when forced into action as a starting safety during his rookie campaign, and if given the chance to develop, should be a consistent performer for Esks for years to come. Hits like a truck.

Tim St.Pierre (LS/LB) – Is it fair to call St.Pierre the Esks “Charlie Hustle”? He works hard to make plays when he is on the field and has done a pretty decent job as the team’s long-snapper this year.

Noel Prefontaine (K/P) – Clutch. All you need to say about Prefontaine who continues to consistently perform when called upon.

Injured

These are players who have been struggling this year with injuries. Fair or not, it could spell the end of their time with the Esks.

Chris Ciezki (FB) – Special teams standout has battled injuries and inconsistentcy this year. In eight games, he only managed two special teams tackles this year.

Graeme Bell (FB) – Injuries have kept him from being active on game days. Appearing in only three games this year, Bell is a good back-up and special teams player, but probably won’t ever be a starter.

Kamau Peterson (SB) – An achilles injury has kept KP8 on the sidelines this year. He will turn 33 years old during next season and the combination of age and injury may mean the end of his career with the Esks.

Prospects

These guys could play a huge part in the future of the Esks. Some will turn out to be good CFL starters while others will be revealed as suspects who will move on.

Pacal Fils (RB) – In his rookie season and probably still adjusting to the league. Fils value is down the line, as a complementary back to McCarty so grading him on limited action does not make much sense.

Tyler Scott (WR) – Practice roster player who has been pressed into active duty due to injuries to Peterson and Talbot. He’s a backup that can play special teams, but there probably isn’t a long term future for him here in Edmonton.

Nate Binder (WR) – Binder is an interesting prospect as a fourth round draft pick of the BC Lions this past spring but was released midway through training camp. Might be worth developing over the rest of season and seeing what he can do during next year’s training camp.

Brad Smith (SB) – Smith looked pretty good in training camp, and could be a pretty good receiver down the road. That being said, the fourth year CFL veteran is getting towards the end of his tenure as a prospect and will need to take his game to the next level soon.

Gord Hinse (C) – Hinse needs to be a starter down the road. The Esks can be patient with him for the time being, but sooner or later, he will need to become a starter.

Adam Rogers (G) – A development prospect who might never rise above being a back-up.

Greg Wojt (T) – Wojt has been thrust into the starting lineup after the organization decided to part ways with both Joe McGrath and Calvin Armstrong. The rest of the 2010 season will be his audition as a potential long-term solution at right tackle.

Saleem Borhot (S) – Starting safety of the future? Perhaps. Borhot, however, has been battling injuries since the day he showed up in camp. It will be interesting to see what he can do when he starts a season healthy.

Corbin Sharun (S) – Sharun has to be one of the hardest workers on the team just to stay on the roster. He’s been making plays on special teams, and will probably be a depth non-import for at least a couple of years. It will be interesting to see how he develops and if he can expand his role on the team.

Dee Sterling (DT) – Sterling has done well as a back-up along the interior defensive line, accumulating nine tackles and a couple of sacks. Could be an eventual starter.

Neil Puffer (LS) – Kept as a replacement to veteran Taylor Inglis, has rotated between the active roster and practice squad most of the season.

Derek Schiavone (K/P) – Patiently waiting for his turn to assume the starting kicking role on the Esks.

Offensive line

The Esks offensive line was pretty good in 2009, placing second in the league in sacks against behind only Montreal. 2010 has not produced the same results, although the team started with the same players that they finished with last year.

Aaron Ficconi (C) – Fiacconi is a competitor who brings a strong effort every game. The Esks missed him in the first game of the season when he was out with an injury.

Kelly Bates (G) – Brought in as a short term fix to add depth along the interior line. Might be here next year and he might not be. Will be 36-years old next July.

Kyle Koch (G) – Koch is an interesting player because of his age. He’s only 25-years old, and should be part of the Esks offensive line for a long-time to come, but is also part of the reason why Ricky Ray has been spending a lot time on his back.

Patrick Kabongo (G) – He has to be better. A former CFL All-Star has been a shadow of the player he was last year. He’s stil a valuable member of the line, but needs to be better.

Others

Don’t fit into any of the other categories, which or may not be a good thing. Each has questions about their long-term future with the team and five of the six have starting ability for the Esks. That being said, being a starter on a 2-9 team does not mean much.

Mathieu Bertrand (FB) – Needs to provide more if possible. Bertrand is far and away the best fullback on the roster, but is that enough?

Andrew Nowacki (WR) – Went how many weeks without catching a pass to start the season? He’s shown he can make catches, but why isn’t he targeted more? Is it Nowacki, or the scheme being implemented by offensive coordinator Kevin Strasser.

Jason Nugent (S) – As filled in admirably when called upon, but lacks the speed and instincts to be a starter. He contributes on special teams, but is third on the depth chart behind Richardon and Borhot.

Javier Glatt (LB) – Veteran off-season addition has been steady, and has filled in as a starter when the Esks have needed to balance their ratio. One has to wonder if he has a long term future with the Green & Gold? He works on special teams, but has reached the ceiling of his ability.

Justin Cooper (DE) – Cooper has only been in the league for three years, so one might still want to think of him as a prospect, but at 28-years old, he’s at the point where he either needs to have a defined role, or be replaced by a younger prospect with a higher upside.

Adam Braidwood (DT) – Braidwood was outstanding in his first two years in the league. After two years without playing a down, he’s still working off the rust and making the adjustment to playing on the inside of the defensive line. With Brian Bulcke potentially on the way next year, one of him or Sterling might need to eventually take a back seat.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. KP8 done? not even close

    Reply

  2. An achilles injury is tough to come back from. I hope he can make it back, but at the same time, it might also be time for the Esks to move on.

    Reply

  3. Maybe, i hope not though. Even at 32 – 33 years, he is still a gem

    Reply

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