Earlier today, I posted the Eskimos’ depth chart on the Journal Sports Facebook page. Here are a few things that stand out from the depth chart, which could be some early premonitions on who sits where with the team as the Eskimos move toward a quickly approaching June 30 opening day.
- Who starts at centre?
Going into training camp, it seemed that Gord Hinse had his name etched into the starting centre job on the offensive line. Hinse came into the mix late last season after Aaron Fiacconi and Kyle Koch both went down with season-ending injuries and was very sound in snapping the ball to Ricky Ray. In Vancouver on Oct. 29 last year, Hinse provided one of the best visuals of the Eskimos season, when he ran sans-helmet, throwing his massive frame around to block for a scrambling Ricky Ray.
Tonight, Hinse (a recent U of A graduate) is buried behind Koch, the more experienced centre. Hinse has had some spotty moments in camp, where snaps have missed their mark in practice. Last week in Calgary, he turfed a snap to Jeremiah Masoli that led to the Eskimos almost turning the ball over. When Ricky Ray and the Argos get here next week, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Koch snapping to Steven Jyles, with Hinse watching from the sidelines.
- D-line depth
Eskimos fans likely won’t see Julius Williams or Marcus Howard tonight. Head coach Kavis Reed said he’s planning on sitting his top-two defensive ends and saving them for next week’s opener (this despite Howard listed as the starting DE on the chart). The defensive line will still be strong, though. Rashad Jeanty, Ted Laurent, Donny Oramasionwu and Justin Capicciotti have all had strong training camps and could be capable of starting for a lot of teams in the CFL. A deep spot on last year’s roster, the defensive line looks to be better, but Jeanty and Cappicciotti won’t be book-ending that line next week unless Howard or Williams is injured.
- Kicker shuffling?
Kavis Reed said on Wednesday that he and his staff were working on sorting out their kickers. The impending arrival of import kicker Swayze Waters spices things up for the Eskimos, inserting a kicker into the mix who has missed the entirety of training camp and both preseason games. Something to watch for in tonight’s game is that Grant Shaw is on the depth chart as both a kicker and a free safety, whereas last week against Calgary, he was solely listed under kicker/punter. Eric Tillman is very big on Shaw’s diversity and has talked up his defensive abilities a number of times in the off-season. If the Eskimos moved Shaw from kicking duties to defence, it would allow the team to potentially have all four kickers on the roster. Or, the Eskimos could make a cut or two in that department for their cut-down day tomorrow.