All business inside white lines; Roughriders turned Eskimos eager to face former teammates
Wed Jun 17 2009
Sports Byline: Mario Annicchiarico Source: The Edmonton Journal
Edmonton Eskimos fans likely will not see a lot of veterans on the field tonight, at least not for a lengthy period of time.
But they will witness their first look at the new Saskatchewan recruits in Eskimos colours going full bore in the pre-season opener.
Maurice Lloyd, Kitwana Jones and Scott Gordon bring with them veteran savvy, a ferocious brand of football and familiarity with what is now head coach Richie Hall's defence (albeit with a twist). It's ironic that the first taste they get as new members of the Eskimos is against their former teammates -- the nasty Roughriders of Saskatchewan.
"I have a lot of emotions going into this game. I'm anxious and at the same time I kind of have mixed feelings about going against the boys," said Jones. "But I'm ready to go.
"This is the name of the game, this is a business. There is no guarantee that you're going to wear the same colour for your football career. So I'm with the Eskimos.
"I'm ready to go against these Riders and I'm going to go hard." Eskimos fans wouldn't want it any other way, especially when the Green and White venture to town.
"I can't wait," said Jones, who came over in a trade, while the other two signed as free agents. "It's going to be awkward, but hey, that's the name of the game. I'm wearing a different green now, green and yellow not green and white." The same goes for Lloyd, who takes command of a revamped defence.
"To tell you the truth, I don't have any thoughts and feelings. I never have any thoughts and feelings before a game. It's the day of the game that I have thoughts and feelings," stressed a very serious Lloyd.
"The Riders are just another team to me. I have no grief against them. I have no hard feelings towards them. It's business, but my thing is they're not my teammates anymore. They're friends outside the white lines, but when we step inside the white lines, it's all business." Lloyd definitely had his game face on and Esks fans will be happy to know it will be there for quite some time.
"You have to know how to turn on your on/off switch. My on switch has been on since I signed Feb. 16 and it won't stop until the end of November," Lloyd insisted. "It will be full on (Wednesday). How long I play for (tonight against Saskatchewan) I do not know, but as long as I'm playing you're going to get everything Mo Lloyd brings on the field." Gordon, the eldest of the trio at 32, was the most lighthearted of the bunch, but like the others, was excited about the chance to face his former teammates.
"I'm going to be talking trash to Darian Durant," laughed Gordon.
"I'm going to have fun with it, but if I get a chance to make a hit ... I expect them to come at me. I'm not going to let up and I don't expect you to let up. That's the game of football." But make no mistake, there will be plenty of kibitzing to go with the clashing.
"Maybe I'll say a few things, get in their heads. I expect them to be talking trash to me. Yeah, this should be a lot of fun," smiled Gordon.
POINT AFTER: Hall is not expected to dress starting quarterback Ricky Ray, who will likely sit out the entire game as the Eskimos focus on the No. 3 spot, a battle between Lester Ricard and Jared Zabransky. One of the two will start. Others not expected to play are OL Greg Wojt and Garrick Jones, LB/DB Lenny Williams, FB Mathieu Bertrand, DL Jim Davis, DBs Bradley Robinson and Jason Goss and SB Dante Luciani.