SPORTS

Acquisition of Boyd gives Edmonton Eskimos options in the backfield

08/16/2012 01:20 EDT | Updated 10/16/2012 05:12 EDT
EDMONTON - Edmonton Eskimos offensive co-ordinator Marcus Crandell received a huge gift this week when the CFL's leading rusher unexpectedly showed up on his roster — but it's one with complications.

The Eskimos host the Montreal Alouettes on Friday with two of the league's top rushers at their disposal — Cory Boyd, the CFL's rushing leader with 447 yards who was surprisingly released by the Toronto Argonauts on Sunday, and incumbent Hugh Charles, who is just 47 yards back.

A week ago, Edmonton had only two healthy running backs in Charles and Canadian Calvin McCarty.

"I can breathe a little easier," Candell said with a chuckle. "We were kind of treading water with only two backs on the roster.

"(Boyd) gives us a sigh of relief, that security blanket, and brings experience and what he's done on the field speaks for itself."

But Crandell might have to wait to unleash the two-headed rushing attack as Boyd is expected to be a game-time decision against Montreal. CFL teams can wait up to an hour before kickoff to finalize their 42-man roster.

Predictably, the 27-year-old Boyd says he's ready, physically, mentally and spiritually to play Friday.

"I'm always ready," he said. "If you're not ready then you're not doing your job."

Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed says there's room for the six-foot-two, 214-pound Boyd in the lineup if the club feels he's ready to play.

"We have the roster flexibility, we have the ratio flexibility, so we'll look at it and see where Cory is and how he fits in," Reed said. "But for us, worst case scenario is we got a very, very good security blanket."

The challenge facing Crandell and the Eskimos is figuring out how to get Charles and Boyd enough touches to keep both happy.

"That's the tougher part," Crandell said. "That's for me to deal with and everyone else to just sit back and watch.

"This offence is based on giving everyone an opportunity. If (Boyd) gets in, when he gets in, we don't treat the game any differently from when Hugh Charles is in."

Edmonton's backfield situation could be further complicated if Canadian Jerome Messam returns. The 27-year-old Toronto native, who grew up in Brampton, Ont., was the CFL's top Canadian last season but is currently at the Miami Dolphins' training camp.

The six-foot-four, 248-pound Messam is listed third on Miami's depth chart at fullback and hasn't been given many opportunities to play.

"We'll talk about that when it happens, if it happens," said Crandell. "For now these are the guys we're rolling with."

Charles, 26, who came to the Eskimos as a backup before assuming the starter's role, isn't concerned about losing his job.

"I'm not going anywhere ... I'll still be the featured back," said the five-foot-eight, 183-pound Charles. "It's good we added another guy such as Cory Boyd because our depth at running back is really slim.

"There's many ways in this offence that we can be utilized together. It's not a big deal to me. I'm keeping my head up. I don't feel like I've done anything wrong and I'm going to look ahead and keep winning games."

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