Passing on Reynolds

Running back Joffrey Reynolds was almost non-existent in the Stampeders' 30-18 loss last Thursday...

Running back Joffrey Reynolds was almost non-existent in the Stampeders' 30-18 loss last Thursday in Montreal with only four carries. (Sun File/Jason Halstead)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

Joffrey Reynolds' lack-of action in Montreal has been the hot-button topic of Calgary's sporting community the last few days.

And it has everybody involved with the Stampeders -- from offensive co-ordinator George Cortez to the peanut vendors -- under the magnifying glass.

Not that Cortez would admit to knowing how big the issue has become.

"I quit reading the paper when the regular season started and listen to CDs on the way home," Cortez said yesterday. "If I don't see or hear it on a game on TV, I haven't seen or heard it."

Reynolds, a CFL all-star last season, was almost non-existent in the Stampeders' 30-18 loss last Thursday in Montreal with only four carries -- including just one in the second half -- for 20 yards.

It has all fans of the Red and White wondering how such a talented player could be virtually left out of the game plan.

"Some of it is we run a lot of zone-read, and whether the back gets the ball or whether the quarterback keeps the ball depends on what the defence does," Cortez said. "And part of it has been the situation in games. We've been behind and throwing the ball in the second half."

The Stamps were down a pair of touchdowns at halftime in Montreal, but that deficit isn't large enough you need to go for the home run on every down.

Even still at that point -- the theory goes -- you still need to use the run to set up the passing attack.

Not so, Cortez insisted.

"In three-down football, it's not that big of a factor. You can't say that you can set (up passing plays with) the run because if you don't get any yardage running on first down, people know you're not gonna be running," he said. "That's why the zone-read is the big running play in the CFL because if you're just handing the ball off, and they're not playing the quarterback, an unblocked guy makes the play because the defence always outnumbers the offence in the box.

"That's the tough part about the running game in the CFL and why guys who make a lot of yards rushing are usually ahead in the second half. They can run the ball a lot.

"We would like to be balanced, we would like our skill guys to have opportunities with the ball, but by the same instance that's sometimes dictated by the game. I know the last two games we spent almost the entire second half in no-huddle and we tried to run a couple of running plays that turned into passes because that's the nature of how we're running the ball right now."

It has been indicative of the Stamps' season -- consistently inconsistent.

Plenty of that could be pinned on the offensive line, which hasn't yet gelled together, as well as ineffective blocking from the fullbacks.

Yet, a case can be made it's high time to force the issue. Reynolds is averaging 6.1 yards per carry yet has only been handed the ball 65 times through seven games. By comparison, Winnipeg's Charles Roberts has 116 carries and B.C.'s Joe Smith has 102. Both are more than a half-yard back of Reynolds when it comes to yards per carry.

Publicly, Reynolds won't flat-out demand more carries or a trade (head coach Tom Higgins quipped a recent meeting began with him questioning Reynolds "Where would you like to go?"), and he insists that meeting has him feeling better.

But it's obvious he expects to be used a lot more this season, beginning with Friday's home game against the Lions.

"I don't know gametime what it's gonna be like, but everybody's on the same page right now," Reynolds said. "You want to see a little more patience with the running game, but you know every time you're not going to get seven or eight yards. The offensive line has to get a feel for the defence. For us, it's trying to find a happy medium.

"You do like to see your offensive co-ordinator come to you and say, 'We're counting on you to break the game open, sooner or later.' I'm hoping we eventually get to that point."


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