SPRUCE GROVE - Thursday can't arrive fast enough for a number of veteran members of the Edmonton Eskimos.
With Friday's pre-season loss to the Calgary Stampeders being a youth-driven effort, Thursday's game against the BC Lions will mark the first dip in the football pool for the team's established players.
"Oh, I'm ready," Eskimo quarterback Steven Jyles said after Sunday's practice. Jyles has spent the past 15 days practising. He sat out Friday's game and watched Matt Nichols, Jeremiah Masoli and Brandon Summers take turns at the helm of the offence.
"We're just taking (training camp) one day at a time. Every day you have to build chemistry with those guys and I'm looking forward to that," he said. "But as far as being game ready, I'm game ready and ready to play."
Jyles had a strong practice on Sunday, working with the team's first-unit on offence. He had a number of impressive plays with slotback Fred Stamps, who is also expected to play for the first time this season on Thursday.
"Fred is a guy who's easy to throw it to," Jyles said. "He's an easy target. You place the ball around him and he'll make a big catch. That's a guy that I'm looking forward to having a chance to work with."
Hugh Charles is also eager to get back on the field.
"I was hoping I'd play in Friday's game and that didn't happen," the tailback said. "I'm really looking forward to Thursday and to getting that first hit.
"That's one thing with me: after every season and then the off-season comes and you're training so hard, you get that opportunity to get back on the field, get that one hit and let everything play out. That's what I'm waiting for, to get out and show what I'm about and have a good season."
Eskimo Head Coach Kavis Reed said that camp would get more intense this week, but the focus would remain the same.
"Our biggest thing is to make certain that we're hitting on all cylinders when we come out on June 30," Reed said of his team's season-opener against Ricky Ray and the Toronto Argonauts. "We know it's going to be a very competitive game. They have great talent, they have a great coaching staff. We are going to be really well prepared."
Reed said that he'd give his vets the first half of Thursday's game to re-familiarize themselves with game-speed football.
"We're mainly focused on their timing and that's it," he said. "We want to let them get in there and get a good sweat, a good pace, a good tempo, a good understanding of the game.
"Understanding that they're back in football again, understanding the angles and the catches and the tackling. All of those things are important to June 30.
"Once we get that out of them, once they show that they have that understanding and that football timing back, we'll take them out and we'll move on with the game."
One vet who may be sitting out the game is Adarius Bowman. The slotback suited up but didn't take part in activities on Sunday in Spruce Grove.
"We're going to be very smart with Adarius," Reed said. "The biggest thing is that he's a pro. He's going to work out on the side and he's in all of the meetings. He asks all of the questions and he's a leader.
"We're going to be very smart with him. We understand that you're not going to win the Grey Cup in pre-season. He's a very important part of our team so we want to be smart."