The injury bug!
For CFL coaches and general managers, it can be a real headache. You can’t plan for when injuries will happen during an 18-game regular season. A team can be chugging along, having a great year, then ‘boom’: An injury to the QB, a receiver, a pass rusher, a linebacker, or a defensive back can put a team into a tailspin.
The Eskimos have already this season, dealt with their fair share of injuries.
Slotback Adarius Bowman (knee) will miss his sixth game today in Toronto, defensive end Marcus Howard (hamstring) his fourth, defensive lineman Ted Laurent (ankle) his second, fullback Matheiu Bertrand (groin) his fourth. Right guard Greg Wojt (knee) missed five games, wide receiver Greg Carr (ankle) three games, left guard Simeon Rottier (elbow) is expected to return tonight vs. Toronto. He’s missed three games. Defensive tackle Almondo Sewell (hamstring) also should make his return after missing two games. Defensive end Lee Robinson (hip) missed one game, linebacker Clint Kent (knee) missed three games, and halfback Weldon Brown (groin) missed two games.
That’s 35 man games lost already in eight games so far in the regular season. That doesn’t include the depth players.
Preview: Edmonton at Toronto Wk. 9
You can’t predict when injuries will happen. You can however prepare when the injury bug does hit, you can have the right depth on your roster. Last season was a great lesson for the Eskimos in regards to depth. Head coach Kavis Reed says that was a great emphasis for him and general manager Eric Tillman last off-season.
“We went through a three-game lull from Winnipeg, Montreal, and B.C. going into the bye week last year. We were decimated in our receiving corps,” Reed said. “We had to bring in two offensive linemen in Chris Patrick and Devin Tyler to play Labour Day because we were decimated with injuries there. We built our linebacking corps well enough to have special teams guys. Those lessons were pretty significant ones for us. Eric and I sat down during the off-season and decided that we didn’t want to have that situation happen again. “
In a four-game stretch last season, the Eskimos lost Adarius Bowman, Fred Stamps, Marcus Henry, and Jason Barnes to injury. During the week of preparation for the B.C. Lions the Eskimos brought in Prechae Rodriguez, Ryan Grice-Mullen, and Dobson Collins. Ricky Ray spent the week like he was cramming for an exam getting to know his new receivers. The Eskimos were crushed 36-1 at Commonwealth Stadium.
This year, however, when Greg Carr went down, rookie Shamawd Chambers stepped and made plays, some of them big plays.
Brian Ramsay is proving to be a valuable depth player who can play pretty much anywhere on the front five. Dylan Steenbergen received his chance to play right tackle early on. He struggled some but showed glimpses of why the Montreal Alouettes drafted him in the first round in 2009. Mr. Everything Calvin McCarty is seeing time now as the team’s starting fullback.
On defence, the secondary has had to take a warranty on the blender they’ve been using. In a game at home vs. Winnipeg, Weldon Brown went down, Clint Kent went down. Donovan Alexander had shift from safety to corner and Mike Miller had to play safety. Meanwhile, Ricardo Colclough played halfback from Brown in B.C., he hurt his ankle, Ronnie Prude played the second half and the entire game next week in Winnipeg. Prude has also filled in Clint Kent’s spot in the defense as the fourth linebacker/seventh defensive back.
I hope you like connect the dots by the way.
Last season, the Eskimos were hit hard in their receiving corps. This year, it’s their defensive line. They miss Marcus Howard off the edge and even though his sack dance is….well…..unusual (it’s pretty funny actually), Ted Laurent’s five sacks are noticeably absent. Throw in Almondo Sewell and Lee Robinson and makes four defensive linemen the Eskimos were missing at one point.
The Montreal Alouettes showed last week in their 38-25 win over Edmonton that you may be able to “plug and play.” Running back Brandon Whitaker didn’t play but backup Victor Anderson enjoyed a 100-yard rushing day.
Kavis Reed says a long time ago he learned what made a team successful. It’s not the first stringer but the player who’s backing him up. If number two is a significant drop-off to number one, then as a coach, you’ve made a big mistake.
The good news for the Eskimos is they should have the likes of Howard and Laurent back by the time the Labour Day series rolls around.
So far, the Eskimos have managed to maintain a very good level of success with the injuries they’ve sustained. Currently, the Eskimos are tied for second place in the Western Divison.
Like leaders in sports, there’s just no such thing as too much depth.
NOTES: Running back Jerome Messam has been released by the Miami Dolphins of the NFL. Messam now has a 10-day window to sign with another NFL club. Kavis Reed says if he does come to Edmonton, he’ll keep him along with Hugh Charles, and Cory Boyd. The Eskimos released defensive lineman Claude Wroten this week. He played the two games for the Eskimos recording four tackles.