August 7, 2017 3:14 pm
Updated: August 7, 2017 4:55 pm

Edmonton Eskimos release veteran Tony Washington

Edmonton Eskimos' Almondo Sewell (90) and Tony Washington (58) carry the Grey Cup to the stage during a fan rally for the Grey Cup champions, in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday December 1, 2015. The Eskimos defeated the Ottawa Redblacks 26-20 to win the 103rd Grey Cup in Winnipeg.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson.
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Before the Edmonton Eskimos stepped onto the practice field Monday to prepare for Thursday’s road game against the Ottawa Redblacks, the team made a surprising roster move.

The Eskimos released seven-year offensive lineman Tony Washington, who played just over three seasons with the green and gold starting in 2014.

“It was just a business decision, a football decision more than anything,” head coach Jason Maas said. “We have a couple of guys, we feel, in house that can get the job done and decided to move on, nothing more than that.

“I have a good relationship with Tony on that end so it wasn’t anything personal — just looking at our play at that position, knowing the guys we have in house, having confidence in them,” Maas explained.

Washington played 48 games for the Eskimos and was an integral part of the team’s 2015 Grey Cup championship win.

“Tony has done some great things for us in this organization, there’s no doubt about that,” Maas said. “We won a Grey Cup with him, I personally won another Grey Cup with him in Toronto, so I know what type of player he is. I wish him nothing but the best and I know our organization does.”

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Maas said releasing Washington was a difficult decision.

“Your club is winning and he’s contributing to those wins. It’s hard to make those decisions at times, but we felt looking at it, analyzing it — closer than how everybody else analyzes it — that we… can go in different direction and obviously get the job done as well.

“It’s a tough decision,” Maas said. “Nothing personal. It was just a matter of us figuring the guys in our room and how we want our team to look. We needed a change.”

Monday at practice offensive lineman Joel Figueroa returned after missing Friday’s win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Fellow O-lineman Colin Kelly also practised and has been activated from the six-game injured list.

READ MORE: Reilly leads Eskimos to 33-28 victory over Tiger-Cats; Edmonton improves to 6-0

Game time on Thursday from TD Place Stadium in Ottawa is 5:30 p.m. 630 CHED will have live coverage starting with Countdown to Kick-off at 4 p.m.

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