'Backs willing to carry load

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:43 AM ET

Another week, another puzzle for the Calgary Stampeders' listless offence.

With the wonky passing game's inconsistency through three contests it's only natural to begin leaning on backs Joffrey Reynolds and Ronney Jenkins.

Reynolds posted an impressive 8.0-yard average last week in Ottawa, despite touching the ball just seven times -- all on first down -- while his 6.3 average this season is second-best in the CFL.

So a simple solution would be to look for Reynolds to move the ball Saturday against the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders, right?

Not necessarily.

The Roughies have been the toughest team to run against through four games, allowing a ridiculously low league-best 30.3 net yards per contest.

It's not a promising scenario for the Stampeders, although Reynolds is still eager to carry the load in an attempt to spark the offence.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't want the ball," Reynolds said after yesterday's practice.

"I want the ball damn near every time. If you ask every receiver, they always want the ball, too, but we have to work within the framework of our offence."

In practice this week Reynolds has been lining up alongside Jenkins in the team's 'Pony' package in which Jenkins can also be an effective receiver. Although Jenkins was injured prior to the season opener, he has been largely ignored since returning.

Reynolds was used only on first down against Ottawa, rushing for 56 yards and one touchdown while Jenkins carried the ball only once.

"Hopefully we can mix it in and convert on some second downs which allows us to run the ball some more and that will help us out a lot," Reynolds said.

"If I can get six yards on first down, why can't I get the ball again? But we've got to get the timing together and just convert and would allow us to open up the playbook more."

Jenkins thinks combining with Reynolds gives the running game a new look that could be more effective. The Roughriders run defence will also be hampered without tackle Nate Davis and end Daved Benefield, both expected to sit with injuries.

"We're going to tighten down and focus on putting me and Joffrey in situations where they don't know who's getting the ball," Jenkins said.

"Obviously they're going to focus on Joffrey and that could open up some other good things.

"We have to use all our weapons -- bottom line. You can't focus on one guys or two guys. Right now we're struggling but I think this week we're going to turn it around and we have to get things crackin' right now.

"We're a good team and a good offence everyone knows we've got the players and the talent but we have to execute or we're gong to be embarrassed."

Offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto said Reynolds' effectiveness in Ottawa has him second-guessing his decision to not call his number more often, especially on second down.

"We've been running the ball really well and we probably could ... If I had to do it over again I would have called some running plays in those situations," Buratto said, noting QB Henry Burris also has to be better.

"The guys were open, we just didn't complete the passes.

"I'd like to say we're going to be a little bit more stubborn about running the football but this crew (Saskatchewan) as about as tough a bunch as there is in the league to run against.

"We could benefit from our ability to run the football but we still have to be more efficient throwing it."

Buratto argues Burris should also take it upon himself to pull down the ball and run when he can't find open receivers. It was an effective strategy against Winnipeg, Cal- gary's only win this season. Burris has carried the ball 16 times for a 6.1-yard average.

"He needs to be more assertive about running and the big thing is what it does to the defence and the way they defend you," Buratto said.


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