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Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly not 100 per cent but will play versus Alouettes

09/11/2014 04:14 EDT | Updated 11/11/2014 05:59 EST
EDMONTON - Edmonton Eskimo quarterback Mike Reilly wasn't eager to shake hands with a reporter Thursday but pronounced himself ready to take his injured thumb into battle Friday against the Montreal Alouettes.

"It's not 100 per cent but it's good enough to play football and play at a high level," Reilly said of his injured thumb.

"It's going to take a couple of weeks before it feels 100 per cent normal but right now it's not affecting my ability to throw the ball and play football."

Reilly's injured thumb on his throwing hand has kept him out of the last two games, both losses to Calgary. His return is welcome news for Edmonton's offence that will be looking for more consistency to try to end a two-game losing streak. The losses have dropped the Eskimos to 7-3 and into third place in the west.

Reilly, injured on the opening drive of a 41-27 win over Toronto three weeks ago, said the Eskimos have to get back to the basics, get back to competing, playing hard and executing their plays to get past the Alouettes.

"If this week of practice is any indication, we're going to be back to where we were early in the year," he said. "We came out with a kind of new mentality and a new focus and that's a good thing."

While Reilly is back with Edmonton, former Eskimo Jonathan Crompton will get his third start for the Alouettes. In his two previous starts Crompton completed 33 of 52 passes for 451 yards with two TDs and two interceptions.

"He's done a very nice job getting the ball out of his hands, he knows where his weapons are," said Eskimo coach Chris Jones. "He's done a great job of managing (the offence) and I think he's brought a level of energy that they were maybe lacking.

"The last three weeks they have a lot more energy and a more positive aura about them so it's going to be interesting to see how we come out of the locker-room and attack them."

Crompton was Reilly's backup last season but slid to fourth on the depth chart in training camp before leaving. He wouldn't talk about the Eskimo situation, saying he's just happy where he's at and is back in Edmonton for a "business trip."

"It's not about me," he said of his recent success and the Als' two wins. "The O-line has been blocking their butts off, the running backs have been running well, blocking well, the receivers have been making plays. When all those go together it makes my job easy."

The Eskimos are 5-0 versus eastern teams, including an 33-23 win over Montreal in early August, but, like very other western team, they have a better record on the road (4-1) than at home (3-2). Montreal has won its last two games but is winless in four road games this year.

A lot of Edmonton's success this season is due to the improved and aggressive play of the defence that leads the CFL with five touchdowns — three on interceptions and two on fumble recoveries.

Rookie Dexter McCoil, who won a linebacking spot in training camp partly due to the injury to J.C. Sherritt, has been a big part of the defence with four interceptions and two touchdowns.

"Those days just happened to be in the right place at the right time," he said. "We have great game plans. Our coaches put us in great positions to make plays. . . and our job is to execute to the highest level."

Sherritt is back on the roster but McCoil, Rennie Curran and Otha Foster are the starting linebackers. The three starters have a combined 95 tackles and five interceptions.

"It's about everybody buying into the defence and wanting to be good," McCoil explained. "We pride ourselves on being aggressive and physical. We have a long way to go to be great, but every time we step on the field we're trying to be the best we can."

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