EDMONTON -- To say the first seven games of the season have been a rollercoaster ride for Eskimos pivot Steven Jyles would be a bit of an understatement. As quickly as the ride ascended at the beginning, it dropped soon after. Then it came back up again and, well, you get the rest.
|Let's Get Physical|
After taking a few hard hits during Edmonton's loss to the Alouettes, Fred Stamps was instructed to sit out a few days of practice. However, he will start against the Argos this week.
After a few rises and dips already in this young season, the Green and Gold fell 38-25 to the Alouettes last week, who stormed out to a 28-0 first-half lead and hung on from there.
But with his team sitting 4-3 and firmly in second place in the West Division following the loss, Jyles had no shortage of composure and confidence in his first practice since Friday’s game.
The Esks signal caller is no stranger to the ups and downs of a CFL season, and had you talked to him on Monday, you’d have no idea whether his team was coming off a win or a loss.
You also wouldn’t know his next game is against the team that traded him in the off-season, as he returns to the Rogers Centre for the first time since being an Argo back in 2011.
“It’s another game,” said Jyles. “This is our second time playing Toronto, we know that those guys are going to feel like they gave one away earlier in the year, and of course they’re going to feel that way but our job is to go in and get a win.”
Jyles was 21-36 for 236 yards in his team’s Week 1 win over the Argos, as the Double E stymied a late drive led by Ricky Ray to hang on for a 19-15 win at Commonwealth Stadium.
Since then Jyles, now in his seventh CFL season, continues to settle into a new offence with many ups and downs. His 1,448 yards and five touchdowns ranks relatively low, but the biggest focus has been managing the Eskimo offence and avoiding costly turnovers.
While his four interceptions are tied for the league low among starters, the biggest thing for Jyles has been his leadership. He’s avoided getting caught up in any highs or lows, and continues to show the experience of a proven veteran.
That calming presence may come in handy this week more than ever. As the team looks to lock up just its second road win of the season, Jyles won’t be the only one returning to his old stomping grounds for the first time.
Running back Cory Boyd will return to the city where he spent two seasons and rushed for close to 3,000 yards, barely even two weeks after being released by the Argos and signing with Edmonton.
While Jyles has had a full off-season and then some to get used to his new home, Monday’s homecoming will likely feel a little stranger for Boyd – although he wouldn’t let on any unease heading in.
“It’s a return, it’s another game that we’ve got to prepare for like there’s no other,” said Boyd. “I have a job to do and that’s to come out here and help my team win. It doesn’t matter where we play – it just so happens that we happen to play Toronto.”
Boyd only played in limited action against the Als, getting his hands on the ball just three times for a total of 11 yards. He mostly got his feet wet on blocking assignments, but admits some anxiety may have caused a few mistakes.
“They were just little mental things in the midst of the game,” said Boyd. “It was my first game back with a new team and I just wanted to make a big impression, and then Steven Jyles and a couple other guys told me just play my game, don’t try to do too much, just play Cory Boyd’s game and everything will turn out the way it needs to.”
Whereas the Esks fell behind early against the Als and didn’t have a lot of use for the powerful style of Boyd’s running, the third-year back may figure a lot more into the offensive game plan against the Argos, who boast one of the league’s most physical defences.
Boyd said he knows quite well the challenge that lies ahead with the Argos defence, one of the league’s highest-ranked.
“I’m looking forward to it – I know what to expect from their defence, you just have to come out hard at them,” said Boyd. “Chris Jones is always going to have his defence riled up.”
Jones was hired by the Argos in the off-season to lead their defence, and has led one of the league’s stingiest defences, known for its speed and physicality as well as the ability to attack an offence from all angles.
“I also know that (Jones) doesn’t like it when guys get physical with his defence, so that’s what we have to do,” said Boyd, who’s never been shy to initiate contact. “We have to match their intensity coming off a big win and I know that they’re going to be playing sky high, so we have to go out there and dominate.”
Head Coach Kavis Reed said the only notable bruise coming out of the loss to Montreal was on his team’s ego, as the Esks head into a week of practice with a fairly clean bill of health.
Fred Stamps will sit out a couple of days after a very physical game in Montreal, but will be healthy and ready to go against the Argos and should start practicing as the week unfolds.
Reed commended his receiver’s toughness, as well as his willingness to make the tough catches.
“I would never question that young man’s toughness,” said Reed. “The hits he took in that game, early in the game he took some vicious hits and continued through, he had a bit of a stinger, continued through.”
“And that’s a rare quality in today’s receivers,” the third-year head coach added. “He’s a young man that takes pride in coming out with the tough catches, and he’ll go places where a lot of people aren’t willing to go and for the most part he’s been very successful at it.”
Simeon Rottier, meanwhile, could be ready to return on Monday, but Reed said his status is up in the air and will depend on how he feels in practice this week.
“There’s a chance, right now it’s probably 50/50,” said Reed. “We’re going to work him in practice this week and see where he is. If he’s close we’ll sit him out again, if he’s ready to go we say about 95 per cent confidence we’ll let him go.”
Rottier was injured on July 20th in a game against the BC Lions.
“The thing is with the range of motion in that elbow and where the brace is going to be able to support him,” said Reed. “We’re going to be very cautious with him because the contact he’s going to take in a game he won’t take in practice.”