On Wednesday, the Edmonton Eskimos held a short practice in the fieldhouse as they prepare for Thursday’s mock game which will mark the end of training camp.
Then the scene shifted and looked more like summer camp with games like lawn darts and ring toss breaking out. Eskimos head coach Jason Maas said doing these team-bonding exercises are very important.
“We’ve been doing it all camp, so it’s just part of our way of getting guys to get closer together and get to learn their teammates better,” Maas said. “We’ve put them in groups since Day 1 and been doing stuff like that all camp.
“Today was the final day of it and it was a lot of fun,” Maas added. “The goal was met of what we wanted to accomplish by doing it, and I think we have a good locker-room.”
Thirteen-year veteran fullback Calvin McCarty has been to several training camps over his CFL career and also played with Maas. He said Maas’ understanding — along with the rest of the coaching staff — about the importance of building a culture puts him in good standing with the players.
“I’d say 90 to 95 per cent of our coaching staff has played and you see the competitiveness definitely come out in them, whether it’s in the film room or on the field,” McCarty said. “I think that’s just something that I feel like we all kind of do naturally. We’re all competitive guys in that locker-room, and to able to get to know each other at the same time through other kinds of competition makes you get to know your teammates a little bit better.
“Hats off to Coach Maas and staff for doing those things this year.”
Thursday’s mock game will mark the end of training camp and will also be the last chance for the hopefuls to make an impression on the coaching staff before cut-down day on Saturday. Maas said it’s up to the players to make their case for one last time.
“It’s what we’ve been talking about,” he said. “We want to finish strong and it’s one of the mottos of our football team anyways… to finish everything we do.
Listen below: Eskimos defensive back Anthony Orange discusses his return from an injury which kept him out for the first two weeks of training camp.
Edmonton Eskimos Profile
23 Godfrey Onyeka DB
6’2, 200 pounds
Born: May 23, 1995 Brampton, Ont.
School: Wilfred Laurier
Godfrey Onyeka is in his second CFL training camp with the Eskimos and says this year is a much different experience compared to last year.
“A lot slower, a lot less anxiety, a lot less thinking and more just playing football.”
Onyeka was drafted by the Eskimos in the second round of the 2018 CFL Draft and played in nine games, recording two defensive tackles and a pass knockdown. In 2018, Onyeka played primarily on special teams. In training camp, Onyeka has lined up as the starting wide-side corner in the absence of regular starter Arjen Colquhoun who has been hurt on two separate occasions in camp. Onyeka says he’s treating the starting role like it’s his to lose.
“I’m never going to settle,” Onyeka said. “I didn’t get drafted here to be the second-best field corner on the team. The whole point of why I play this sport is to compete at something and it’s something I enjoy doing, so of course I’m going to try to win the job while I have the opportunity to earn it.”
The Eskimos will hold their mock game on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium.
Saturday is cut-down day across the CFL. The team’s 46-man roster needs to be set by 8 p.m. local time.