LIVESTREAM PPV: BC Lions @Edmonton Eskimos, June 29, 7p (9p EST, 3a June 30 CEST)

EDMONTON — This week’s late-night edition of Friday Night Football pits the Edmonton Eskimos against the BC Lions at The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium.

The Eskimos are looking for a bounce-back performance following a disappointing 38-21 defeat at the hands of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week, while the Lions have had nearly two weeks off since their season-opening 22-10 win over Montreal on home turf.

Both teams are led by veteran players and coaching staffs, and understand the importance of an early-season divisional contest.

“When you play against people you have familiarity with, teammates and guys you coached, it’s good to see them,” Edmonton head coach Jason Maas told Esks.com. “We know what they’re about, have a ton of respect for them. It’s going to be a great rivalry game and a great Western opponent.”

The BC Lions have been raring to get back onto the field after an early bye left them at home in front of their televisions in Week 2.

“Bye weeks are tough, things get repetitive,” Lions receiver Bryan Burnham told BCLions.com. “There’s things here and there that we’ve seen on the film that we might be able to work. But, we know after (Edmonton’s last) game, they’ll be hungry and ready to win. We can’t make any mistakes.”

The 28-year-old pass catcher had a quiet debut against Montreal, catching six passes for a total of 38 yards, but has cleared the 1,000 mark in each of the last two seasons.

“Right now the West is up for grabs,” continued Burnham. “A lot of good teams, (so) to start off the season on a high note with a win on the road will be big for our confidence and putting the league on notice that we’re here — it’s about time we go into Commonwealth and get a win.”

BC head coach Wally Buono, meanwhile, was having none of the farewell tour narrative that journalists tried to force on him during walkthrough on Thursday.

“No, my last time here is going to be in November,” said Buono directly when asked about his ‘final’ game at Commonwealth. “I’m not talking about ‘last time’ — I’ve had some good memories here and a lot of bad memories here. It’s early in the season, there’s a lot of work to be done, and it’s not the time to get sentimental.”

The grizzled BC coach was on board, however, with questions pertaining to the return of Lions D-end Odell Willis to Edmonton.

“Well there should be a lot of buzz about Odell returning — he’s a great player and great personality,” lauded Buono of Willis, who spent five seasons (2013-17) in green and gold. “He’s been a tremendous warrior (and) he’s a guy that livens up everything, whether it’s a meeting or practice. He’s a pro, a guy who competes.”

Veteran quarterback Travis Lulay is slated to dress this week for the Lions, though he will remain behind QB-1 Jonathon Jennings and QB-2 Cody Fajardo on Jarious Jackson’s offence.

All eyes will be on Jennings early in the 2018 season as the Columbus, Oh. native attempts to return to his 2016 form.

“We scored pretty early (last week,) it’s something we’re going to have to maintain throughout the season with consistency,” said Jennings. “Trying to stay on the field against Edmonton, especially with Mike Reilly over there, will be important.

Explosive plays win football games. They’re going to have a couple plays with Mike and guys like Derel Walker, but we’ll have to match those.”

Roster-wise, David Mackie and offensive lineman David Knevel enter the BC lineup this week; while linebacker Keelan Johnson and defensive back Dominique Termansen both hit the one-game injured list.

On the Eskimos side of the football, Friday night’s contest is a chance to rinse the sour taste of Week 2 from the team’s collective mouth.

“You’ve got to bounce back and learn from it,” Edmonton linebacker J.C. Sherritt, who gave a heated post-game interview following his team’s loss, told Esks.com. “I was upset, because I knew we had a good gameplan, and we just got outplayed. Myself included. It was frustrating, we couldn’t get a stop no matter what we did.”

Despite a number of younger faces on coordinator Mike Benevides’s unit — and the growing pains that come with that — Sherritt believes the Esks have the potential to be a shutdown unit.

“We have the tools to be the best defence, but that comes with hard work and time working together,” said Sherritt. “There’s no doubt that (playing)’s the best thing for them. I remember like it was yesterday, when I was thrown into the fire and vets helped. That’s our job as vets to help them get there. It’s not who’s best right now, it’s who’s best at the end of the year.”

The topic of Odell Willis came up in interviews with multiple Eskimos players, and ever-poised quarterback Mike Reilly stated flatly that he won’t play whatever mind games the now-BC D-end will try come Friday.

“Every play (I’ll hear him). There are certain guys in the league that talk a lot during the game, (and) Odell’s one that does,” said Reilly. “I’ve got so much other stuff going on that I don’t hear it, but Odell’s a great guy. He’s one of those guys who makes the game great, gets the fans into it, gets them entertained. (But) once the ball’s kicked off, it’s football.”

With just one lineup change from last week — new signing Samuel Giguere slides in as a backup receiver, with fullback Pascal Lochard sliding out — the biggest roster news in Edmonton will be 2017 first-round draft pick Nate Behar making his first professional start at slotback.

“Getting the texts over the weekend, ‘this is what you’re playing’, it’s exciting,” said Behar, a Carleton product who took just one offensive rep in his 2017 rookie season. “I texted my mom and big brother and said ‘let’s do it’.”

Crunchin’ Numbers:

8 — Eskimos wins in the last 10 meetings between the two teams; Edmonton swept last year’s season series 3-0, but all three contests were decided in the final three minutes of play.

11 — Losses in BC’s last 14 road games against western opponents.

83.3 — Completion percentage for BC quarterback Jonathon Jennings, the best mark in the CFL. Granted, the Lions gunslinger has appeared in one less game than most quarterbacks.

102 — Total yards of second-half offence for Edmonton in last week’s 17-point home loss against Hamilton, an eye-popping number of an offence with so many weapons at its disposal.

Both the Lions and Eskimos could use some momentum right now.

In BC’s case, their 22-10 win on home turf in Week seems; a) very long ago; b) as though it was taken by many with a grain of salt, given their opponents (Montreal).

Edmonton, meanwhile, has only lost the way it did last week — by more than two scores on home turf — one other time since August 2015. Thus, much of the conversation this week around Jason Maas’s team focused on responding.

Two West Division opponents with plenty on the line; early-season jockeying in the standings, the return of Odell Willis, Jonathon Jennings’s quest to become elite.

The storylines are plentiful and the stakes will be high at Commonwealth this Friday, so hang on to your hats, folks.

– With files from BCLions.com/Esks.com

AFI, Yare Media and the CFL

American Football International is collaborating with Yare Media and the Canadian Football League to present 2018 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.

LIVE STREAM PPV: CFL – BC Lions @Edmonton Eskimos, June 29, 7p (9p EST, 3a June 30 CEST)

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