EDMONTON -- Just one win away from punching their ticket to the post-season, the Edmonton Eskimos could be without running back Hugh Charles for next Sunday’s game in Montreal and possibly longer.
But while the team waits to find out the extent of its starting back’s injury, there’s one thing Head Coach Kavis Reed is certain about: both Cory Boyd and Jerome Messam will be ready to go, if needed.
The Green and Gold signed Boyd for the second time this season on Sunday, just nine days after releasing him outright. For Reed, returning the third-year CFL running back to the fold was a no-brainer.
“We don’t know yet the extent of Hugh’s injury,” says the second-year head coach. “It’s a strong possibility he will not be available for us this week, so bringing Cory back made sense because he’s familiar with the system, there isn’t a learning curve, and he’s a proven back.”
Few were surprised when Boyd was initially released, with the experiment of a three-headed monster at running back turning stale with all three backs looking to get carries. But the coach says he and Boyd had a mutual understanding that if the 27-year-old was needed, there would be a phone call.
“Cory has done everything the right way, we’re very comfortable with him in our environment and he’s very comfortable with us, and he’s a very good back,” adds Reed.
While the product of South Carolina’s numbers don’t appear to reflect a whole lot of success with Edmonton, with just 76 yards on 18 carries, Reed says those numbers are more indicative of the role he was put in.
“The numbers that Cory had I don’t think are indicative of what Cory’s capable of because he had limited opportunities,” says Reed. “He was primarily a short-yardage guy for us with not a lot of reps.”
Should Charles miss any extended time, Boyd could be taking on a different role, with a chance to fully showcase his skills as a running back.
“I don’t believe he has to do anything different other than be Cory Boyd,” adds Reed. “He’s a proven perennial over 1000-yard back in his three seasons in the league, and he’s a young man that understands the game.”
“He’s very good out of the backfield, and he’s very good in protection so I don’t think he has to do a lot to get those numbers up if he gets the opportunity.”
Boyd likely wouldn’t be the only one benefitting from extra playing time, though, if Charles can’t go this weekend.
Non-import back Messam took the league by storm last season with 1,057 rushing yards and six touchdowns before heading south in the off-season for a tryout with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
Since returning close to Labour Day this season, the six-foot-three, 245-pound back hasn’t been able to move out of Charles’ shadow, getting his hands on the ball just 26 times for 108 yards and an average of 4.2 yards per carry.
Together Messam and Boyd could pack quite a powerful punch.
“Jerome did a wonderful job in the role that he played on Friday night,” says Reed. “He did very well in protection which is more important to us than the running aspect of it, and we were very pleased with what he did.”
“We’re confident that if Hugh is not able to go that Jerome and Cory can take up the challenge and be successful.”
- With files from Esks.com
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