CALGARY - After dropping the ball early, Joffrey Reynolds desperately wanted to redeem himself.
He never had much of a chance.
In a season in which he’s running up the career rushing list, the Calgary Stampeders star tailback is seeing his chances with the ball go down.
He fumbled in the first quarter of Saturday’s 38-31 victory over the Montreal Alouettes at McMahon Stadium — then had just one more rushing attempt the rest of the way.
“As a running back, what can I do with three carries?” said Reynolds, who finished with 11 rushing yards but another 12 yards on two receptions.
“You kinda get frustrated. But Hank’s playing well and our receivers are playing well …”
The three attempts are a career low for the affable Texan during an outing where he wasn’t being rested.
There were a couple of reasons the Stamps didn’t take their workhorse out of the stable.
Typically, the Alouettes are a defence stout against the run, plus they lost cornerback Mark Estelle early. Stampeders offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson went with what was working, and that was attacking through the air.
Reynolds, who recently moved into seventh place on the all-time rushing list, can’t really argue because it worked.
“We would like to run more but we’re not going to force it,” Dickenson said. “When they did have their injuries, we became a bit more pass heavy. I would like to say we’re going to be more balanced, but we have to let the game dictate it and go from there.”
The Stamps ended up throwing the ball 42 times and rushing only 11 times, five of which came from the quarterbacks. That certainly wasn’t the plan heading in.
“I didn’t even know until the end of the game,” Dickenson said about Reynolds’ three carries. “We want to be a more balanced team.
“Then again, we’re just trying to win, and that’s the bottom line. I hope there is a game down the road when Joffrey gets 30 carries. It wasn’t happening with the plays we thought were working.”
With 69 carries for 350 yards this season, Reynolds is way off his usual pace. At this rate, it will be tough for him to get a seventh straight 1,000-yard season.
After eight games, he’s headed towards a career low 787 yards on just 155 attempts.
Some may argue that, at 32, he is slowing down, but Dickenson says that’s not the case. Jon Cornish is a viable alternative as a rusher, and even the Canadian is seeing a decrease in his workload compared with last season.
There are also instances when Larry Taylor takes Reynolds off the field.
“If I got 20 carries a game, I know I would be at the top of the rushing charts,” Reynolds said. “When you can win games and not limp off the field, it’s still fun to play football. It would be different if I got the opportunities and couldn’t get to 1,000 yards. We’re spreading the ball around.”
The win over the Als ties Reynolds’ longest in-season streak without a 100-yard outing. He’s done it twice before, including last season, but has broken out with a vengeance once the questions about what is wrong get louder.
“The reason I haven’t made big bones about it is I really feel I can have a big game down the stretch,” Reynolds said. “Unless defences want to keep giving up those big passing games, they have to start playing more honest. Maybe they will start to cheat towards the pass.
“Maybe then that will give our running game more looks and more confidence throughout the whole offensive line.”