Rivals Stamps, Esks well-grounded

Calgary Stampeders, Joffrey Reynolds, during practice at McMahon on Tuesday July 19  2011. (DARREN...

Calgary Stampeders, Joffrey Reynolds, during practice at McMahon on Tuesday July 19 2011. (DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI Agency)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

One team hasnt yet put their stallion out on the track.

The other one hasnt yet put their horse to work.

At least one of those is sure to change when the Edmonton Eskimos face the Calgary Stampeders Saturday night at McMahon Stadium.

Joffrey Reynolds hopes the other one occurs as well.

The Eskimos welcome back Arkee Whitlock for the first time this season, and, despite not having the 2009 1,000-yard rusher in action, their ground game leads the league.

The Stamps are still averaging 100 yards per game, but Reynolds isnt exactly beat up from too much action.

His carry totals are 12, eight and seven in the three games this season and they are trending downwards.

I would like the ball a lot more. Unfortunately Im not Peyton Manning where I call my own plays, Reynolds said with a laugh.

This has been a case of us going two and out. Were not running that many offensive plays. Were hit or miss. Once we start getting into a rhythm, we will be a more balanced team.

Last week, Reynolds passed Leo Lewis for eighth place on the all-time rushing list. Next up is former Stampeders and Eskimos great Norm Kwong, and Reynolds needs just 148 yards to tie the legendary Calgary athlete.

Last year, when Reynolds was chasing down the Stampeders all-time rushing lead from Kelvin Anderson, it was slow going until he faced the Eskimos.

In the final two outings against the Eskies last year, Reynolds scampered for 230 yards, racing by Anderson.

This year, Reynolds will be facing a revamped Eskimos defence but there will be a familiar face there.

Former Stampeder Mike Cornell, who actually worked as a fullback in Calgary last year, will be one of the starting middle linebackers for the Eskimos.

Cornell goes from blocking for Reynolds to now trying to stop him.

I think I can tackle Joff. Hopefully I will see him in the hole, said Cornell, who has taken over the injured Rod Davis.

This is a good opportunity for me. Rod went down and I got the nod. I feel like Im in the right place at the right time.

Even without Whitlock this season, the Eskimos have had a completely balanced offensive attack.

They are the only CFL team with more rushing attempts (93) than passing attempts (92), but those have been split between tailbacks Jerome Messam, Calvin McCarty and Daniel Porter.

Whitlock, who replaces Porter on the roster, felt like he was missing out.

Not just the success. Ive been jealous overall, said Whitlock, whos actually not played since Labour Day 2010 because of a foot injury and a hamstring problem this year.

Not being able to run out of the tunnel I missed it. I miss getting ready for a game with my teammates. Those are the things you really miss. Running the ball comes natural but I missed the competitive nature of getting ready for games, especially these type of rivalry games.

Whitlock will likely get a light workload and split duties with both McCarty and Messam, who is actually third in league rushing yardage.

Reynolds is used to splitting carries but this year there are more people to spread the ball around with. Jon Cornish has taken every third series since the start of last season, but now Larry Taylor is taking Reynolds off for the occasional play.

Im on call whenever they need me, Reynolds said. Obviously I want the ball as much as I can get it but we have other talented players.

The only way I see it is offensively were out of synch on how were attacking teams. As far as I can remember, when weve been that way, we havent been productive as a team.

Luckily our defence is playing really well to save us.


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