On Wednesday morning, the Edmonton Eskimos held their first set of two-a-day practices on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium.
During the second session, the intensity level ramped up as the players donned the pads for the first time in training camp, and for the first time since last fall.
Defensive tackle Almondo Sewell said you could feel everything from excitement to apprehension.
“It’s a whole other ball game when you put the pads on,” he said. “When you got the pads on, there’s no more, ‘You have to be careful — don’t ram your helmet inside of a guy’s shoulder on the offensive line.’ Everybody’s coming hard and everybody’s coming out here fighting for their jobs.
“You sense it all when the pads come on, this thing can break a lot of people. They are either going to be with it or you’re just not, and it shows right away.”
From a coaching point of view, head coach Jason Maas says evaluating his team from a physical standpoint becomes a much better task when the pads are on.
“There’s no question — I woke this morning very excited,” Maas said. “You kind of get a barometer of what your team is going to be like based on the physicality they possess and show.
“You can talk about it all you want, it’s a matter of coming out here and seeing it. I did see it, but it’s just a matter of evaluating it more on film.”
Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of the Edmonton Eskimos in 2019.
The new collective bargaining agreement restricts teams to five padded practices in training camp. That number will drop to three in 2020.
The CFL, along with the CFL Players’ Association, officially ratified the new CBA on Wednesday. The deal doesn’t see much immediate impact for the players on a monetary level, but the players are now tied into league revenues and will receive better medical coverage.
Eskimos long-snapper Ryan King, who was on the players’ association’s (PA) bargaining team, said Wednesday was a good day.
“It’s a good day to come into the stadium today and give our team some good news,” King said. “We have been patiently waiting for, especially the last couple of days, with pads today being on for the first time, so guys wanted to be under the new health coverage. The PA and bargaining committee pushed it to get… out there this morning. We’re able to announce it to the membership today.
“It’s done, it’s over with and we can get back to playing football again.”
The new CBA is a three-year deal which will expire after the 2021 season.
Watch below: The CFL and the CFLPA announced Wednesday that a new CBA has been ratified. Kevin Karius has more.
Eskimos Player Profile
30 Martese Jackson RBI/KR
5’5″, 171 pounds
Born: May 20, 1995 Asheville, N.C.
School: Florida Atlantic University
After re-signing with the Eskimos on Monday, running back and kick returner Martese Jackson practiced with the team for the first time in training camp. Jackson was traded to the Eskimos by the Toronto Argonauts last September. He has a career 11-yard average on punt returns. He fell short of those numbers in the six games he played with the Eskimos in 2018. Jackson says he’s happy to be back and is looking forward to special teams having more of a factor this season.
“Special teams is really important I feel,” Jackson said. “When you have good special teams, you can flip the field and you can hold people down on the other side of the field. It makes a big difference.”
Listen below: Eskimos linebacker Korey Jones talks about playing a new system and the new players on the Eskimos defence
The Eskimos on Wednesday signed International defensive lineman Kyle Cerge-Henderson and National defensive back Bryce Bartlett.
The team is back on the field Thursday morning for a another set of two-a-day practices starting at 8:30 a.m. and 10:10 a.m.
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