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Division rivals take centre stage as the Eskimos and Riders battle on Thursday night

Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly throws a pass during first half CFL football action against the Montreal Alouettes in Montreal, Thursday, July 26, 2018.
Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly throws a pass during first half CFL football action against the Montreal Alouettes in Montreal, Thursday, July 26, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Every game is important during a CFL season but when a division rival comes to town the stakes get higher.

The Edmonton Eskimos will welcome the Saskatchewan Roughriders to The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium on Thursday night. Quarterback Mike Reilly says this game will have plenty of importance to it.

“Home games and divisional opponent games are big-time games,” Reilly said. “You want to play well in front of your home crowd, you want to establish that home-field advantage, and you want to play well against divisional opponents and get the win in a four-point swing against that opponent.”

READ MORE: Edmonton Eskimos QB Mike Reilly named Performer of the Week in CFL

The Eskimos have a 4-2 record, good for second place in the Western Division. They will play their third game against a divisional opponent owning a 2-0 record against the West.

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Last week the Eskimos won their third game in their last four with a convincing 44-23 victory over the Montreal Alouettes. Mike Reilly recorded 415 passing yards and threw for four touchdowns and scored one rushing TD. Reilly leads the CFL in passing yards with 2,063 yards.

Receiver Duke Williams scored two touchdowns last week and recorded his fifth straight 100-yard receiving game, tying a club record set by Brian Kelly in 1982. Williams leads the CFL in receiving yards with 672 yards and touchdowns with five.

READ MORE: Eskimos receiver The Duke named CFL Top Performer for July

Listen Below: Head coach Jason Maas says Duke Williams is just as smart as he is talented

The Eskimos recorded six quarterback sacks led by defensive end Kwaku Boateng who recorded three. Boateng has five sacks in his last two games and nine sacks in 22 games played. He’s second in the CFL in sacks with five behind the Riders Charleston Hughes who has eight.

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The Eskimos have made several changes to their 46-man roster. Coming off the roster are linebackers Christophe Mulumba-Tshimanga (concussion), Blair Smith (lower-body), and fullback Pascal Lochard (lower-body) who all have been placed on the six-game injured list. Offensive lineman Justin Sorensen (lower-body) will be placed on the one-game injured list.  Also coming off the 46 are defensive back Maurice McKnight, defensive lineman Nick Usher, and running back Shaq Cooper who have been moved to the practice roster.

Coming on the 46-man roster are defensive backs Mercy Maston, and Arjen Colquhoun, fullbacks Chirstophe Normand and Tanner Green plus offensive lineman J.S. Roy and linebackers Brandon Pittman and Jeremiah Kose.

The following is the projected offensive and defensive starters for the Eskimos:

Offence

Quarterback: Mike Reilly

Running Back: C.J. Gable (Fullback: Calvin McCarty)

Offensive Line: Matt O’Donnell-Travis Bond–David Beard-Jacob Ruby-Colin Kelly

Receivers: Derel Walker-Duke Williams-Natey Adjei-Nate Behar-Kenny Stafford

Defence

Defensive Line: Kwaku Boateng-Almondo Sewell-Jake Ceresna-Alex Bazzie

Linebackers: Korey Jones-J.C. Sherritt-Chris Edwards

Defensive Backs: Mercy Maston-Aaron Grymes-Neil King-Money Hunter-Nick Taylor

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The Riders come to town with a 3-3 record, good for fourth place in the Western Division after a 34-22 loss last week at home to the Calgary Stampeders.  The Riders trailed 24-0 at one point. They’ll have Zach Collaros back as their starting quarterback after being activated off the six-game injured list. Brandon Bridge is also expected to see some playing time; he hasn’t passed for more than 165 yards in his four starts this season although he was pulled in each of his first two starts. Saskatchewan has scored only six offensive touchdowns this season while the defence has scored four.

This game will be the first of two meetings between the two teams.

You can hear live coverage of Thursday’s game between the Eskimos and Riders on 630 CHED starting with Countdown to Kick-off at 6p.m.  The opening kick-off on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium is at 8p.m. with Morley Scott and Dave Campbell calling all of the live action.  Plus hear analysis from former Eskimos offensive lineman and two-time Grey Cup champion Blake Dermott.  Brenden Ullrich will be reporting from the Eskimos sidelines.