Stamps' Cornish needs to up his game

Calgary Stampeders Jon Cornish celebrates his first touchdown against the Montreal Alouettes during...

Calgary Stampeders Jon Cornish celebrates his first touchdown against the Montreal Alouettes during CFL football action at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta, Sunday July 1, 2012. (QMI Agency/AL CHAREST)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

CALGARY - Instead of donning the pads, Jon Cornish was among those watching Sunday's Calgary Stampeders practice wearing sweats.

Considering this is a team which has lost No. 1 quarterback Drew Tate for four months, making it nip and tuck whether he'll return this season, seeing the starting tailback also not practising is a red flag.

No problem to that degree, Cornish insisted.

He simply has a case of turf toe they wanted to nip in the bud before it becomes a bigger issue.

"It's a little annoyance," Cornish said. "I had turf toe a few years back, and I know it's an injury you don't mess around with, so I'll give it time."

Right now, the Stampeders need Cornish on his toes.

Sure, Kevin Glenn, now the starting quarterback, is a seasoned veteran who has shown he's able to grasp the club's offence quickly, but the Stamps may rely more on their running attack in the near future.

"I would enjoy that. Our run game hasn't been anything special the last two weeks, so it's really something I would like to emphasize, and I know the o-line, they want to come out and really make a statement," Cornish said.

"They aren't too happy with the way they've played, I'm not too happy with the way I've played. I know (LaMarcus) Coker's not too happy with the way he's played.

"So we've got a lot of building we can do in the run game.

"We came into the season thinking we were pretty hot, in terms of the run game, and the defences have evolved. A lot of teams are running the eagle now and stacking the box, so we have to deal with those kind of problems.

"Now that we have seen what could happen if we don't do it well, we have to come back and focus on making our run game do its job."

Cornish took over the starter's job late last season, and like Tate, he's had big expectations in his first year as featured player.

However, it's been a struggle.

Through the first three games, he has 161 rushing yards, which is fifth most in the CFL.

More telling is his average per carry -- 4.6 yards -- which is well off the 7.3 pace he set the last two seasons.

Cornish, known of his ability to break big runs in the past, said he has struggled because he's been guilty of not breaking outside.

In his words, he's been going "downhill."

"In my normal run game, I would be more lateral than I would be downhill," Cornish said. "I learned downhill running, but that's not me. I might think I can do a bunch of different things well, but the reality is I'm pretty good at a few specific things -- and I should stick to those.

"I wish I could be good at everything."

Of course, now teams are adjusting their game to stop Cornish, who benefited in the past few years by the fact clubs had to try to stop him and Joffrey Reynolds, who was a more straight-forward power rusher.

It's up to Cornish and the linemen to turn the tables.

"I don't think teams want us to run. I think teams know when we get our run game established, we dominate, so it's something teams are going to try and take away from us," Cornish said. "We know that now, and we understand the challenge put in front of us.

"So the guys in the locker-room, as they always do, will rise to the occasion."

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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