Ground game makes gains

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 2:03 PM ET

Do the Edmonton Eskimos have a running game?

That's been the question on the minds of most Green and Gold fans since the start of training camp.

In the wake of Thursday's 29-21 victory over the Ottawa Renegades at Frank Clair Stadium, Edmonton's run game may be showing signs of life.

Tailback Ron McClendon carried the ball nine times for 57 yards in the victory, which upped Edmonton's seasonal log to 4-1-0.

McClendon also fattened his receiving totals with five more catches for 39 yards and picked up his second receiving touchdown of the season. Although the scatback has yet to run the ball into the end zone, he has racked up more yards catching the ball than running it in three starts.

"I think we're getting better," offered McClendon, who took over in the backfield following a Week 2 rib injury to Elvis Joseph.

"We're pleased where we're at right now but not yet to where we're going to be. We're getting better every week. Breaking one (run of 14 yards) early in the first half, that should show you where the run-game is headed."

The taller, heavier Joseph, meanwhile, has roughly twice as many yards rushing as receiving and is the statistical antithesis of McClendon.

Esks starter Ricky Ray agrees with McClendon that the Green and Gold's ground attack is a work in progress but also says it's a necessary evil.

"At the beginning of the year (the run game) wasn't really something we were trying to establish," said Ray. "We were throwing the ball a lot and running a lot of stuff out of the shotgun.

"I think we did a pretty good job (Thursday) of mixing it up and giving the defence a lot of different looks. You have to be able to run the football in the league to keep defences off balance."

The Montreal Alouettes moved running back Michael Jenkins to their practice roster earlier this week, which means any of the eight other CFL clubs could pilfer the Arkansas product.

However, were any squad to pluck Jenkins off Montreal's practice roster, that team would have to add the 28-year-old to its 40-man.

At this point, the Esks have not had any discussions with the Als regarding Jenkins.

"For the time being we're satisfied with the people we have here," said Esks rookie head coach Danny Maciocia. "Me, I haven't spoken with Montreal. Like I say, we're good for the time being."

Jenkins broke into the CFL with Toronto in 2000 and rushed for 1,484 yards in 2001. Following three seasons with the Argos, Jenkins signed with the NFL Houston Texans and sat out last season due to an ankle injury.

LATE HITS: Rookie receiver Chris Kelley is scheduled to have his injured left knee and ankle examined by the Esks' medical staff ... Defensive back Donny Brady left Thursday's game with back spasms but should be good to go when the team hits the practice field Tuesday.


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