Excitement builds for Edmonton Eskimos on eve of training camp

Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly speaks with the media on the eve of training camp. Dave Campbell/630 CHED

The CFL is about kick off another season.

On Saturday, members of the 2018 Edmonton Eskimos took part in medical and fitness testing before hitting the field Sunday for Day 1 of training camp.

A mix of over 80 veterans and rookies will take part.

Last season linebacker Chris Edwards was a rookie. Now, in his second CFL season, Edwards says he feels a lot more comfortable.

READ MORE: Edmonton Eskimos are reloading at receiver

“Well, I feel like this should be an easier transition,” Edwards said. “Coming in last year everything was so fast but I feel like this year since I know the system everything should be good now.”

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Edwards is likely the favourite to take on the nickel spot in the linebacking corps vacated by all-star Kenny Ladler, who signed with the NFL’s Washington Redskins in the off-season.

Receiver Vidal Hazelton is entering his third season with the Eskimos. The receiving corps will look different this season with the departures of 2017 CFL receiving champion Brandon Zylstra who signed with the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL. Also, Adarius Bowman was released in the off-season and signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

READ MORE: Quarterback Johnny Manziel signs contract with Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Hazelton says the losses are big but the Eskimos have great depth with the receivers who are left.

“Those guys are great players but last year I would always tell people who ask me, I thought we had the best receiving corps not just from those other guys,” Hazelton says. “There’s just so many things that everybody in this group does. It’s the business that we lose guys but we have really good talent. The coaching staff and general manager know what they’re doing.”

Training camp begins Sunday morning at 9:20 on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium. All training camp sessions are open to the public.

The Eskimos will play their first pre-season game at home a week Sunday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

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Reilly says the CFL is more than Johnny Football

The biggest news from the CFL on Saturday is that the much-anticipated signing of Johnny Manziel finally happened as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats signed him to a two-year contract.

Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly says it’s good that Manziel is in the CFL but he doesn’t agree with the notion of Johnny Football raising the league’s profile.

“We’ve had damn good players before Johnny Manziel and we will have damn good players after Johnny Manziel,” Reilly said. “I’ve seen a lot of guys come through this league that had big spotlights that found out real quick this isn’t Pop Warner this is professional football.

“I’m not saying he’s taking that mindset. Everything I’ve heard him say he’s taking (the CFL) very seriously and something he wants to be successful at, so that’s great. I’m glad that he’s in the league and we’re talking about him.”

LISTEN: Eskimos QB Mike Reilly reacts to Johnny Manziel officially becoming a CFL player on Saturday

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The Eskimos host the Tiger-Cats in their home opener on June 22.

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