10/11/2012 01:06 EDT | Updated 12/11/2012 05:12 EST

Running back Boyd released by Eskimos, cut loose for second time this season

EDMONTON - Cory Boyd was the leading rusher in the CFL two months ago.

On Thursday, he found himself unemployed for the second time this season.

The veteran running back was the odd man out in a crowded Edmonton Eskimo backfield and was released by the team along with defensive back Ronnie Prude.

It was the end of an underwhelming tenure in Edmonton for Boyd, who was picked up by the Eskimos a day after being unexpectedly released by the Toronto Argonauts in August.

Expected to provide depth to a then injury-plagued backfield, Boyd played four games for Edmonton and had just 18 carries for 76 yards and four catches for 40 yards.

During his time in Toronto, Boyd was the league's leading rusher with 80 carries for 447 yards and two touchdowns. He also hauled in 23 passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns.

"It was a very difficult decision," Edmonton head coach Kavis Reed said. "He was nothing but professional. He accepted his role and did a phenomenal job as part of the locker-room. But it is a business and Cory understood that. It was difficult for us and difficult for him to accept.

"He's a phenomenal back and I don't think he'll be unemployed very long."

A week after signing Boyd to provide insurance behind Hugh Charles, the Eskimos got fullback Jerome Messam back after his failed attempt to win a job with Miami in the NFL. Reed tried to find ways to work all three of them into the game plan without success.

"It's just one of those things that didn't work out," said Charles, who has never relinquished his role as the team’s premier running back. "We tried the three-headed monster, one of those experiments that's come and gone."

Reed said the performance of Charles and Boyd's import status contributed to Thursday's decision. Despite having his touches reduced for several games, Charles is fifth in CFL rushing with 700 yards on 146 carries. Last week Reed declared Charles the team's No. 1 running back for the rest of the season.

"Hugh Charles has done a phenomenal job as a running back and as a receiver out of the backfield," Reed said. "We tried to accommodate all of them, but it was very hard to get them all into the backfield. Cory was the third man out."

With Charles solidified as the No. 1 back and Messam having non-import status, the import Boyd was the logical casualty.

Charles, who sat beside Boyd in the locker-room, said Boyd "kept his spirits high and knew where he stood."

"It's sad to see him go but he's taking it well and hopefully he'll find a team to shine with again," Charles said. "I'm sure a lot of guys' spirits are down, we were all close to him."

Prude spent the first three weeks on the one-game injured list. In five games he was on the game day roster, he had 12 defensive tackles, one special teams tackle, one pass-knockdown and one interception. He was re-injured Aug. 10 and missed five of the last six games.