Running scared?

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

It's not a big secret: a rock-solid running game can be a team's best friend when protecting a lead.

Churning out plenty of yards on the ground and running the clock in the second half with the opposition's offence on the bench is a recipe for success.

But the Edmonton Eskimos weren't able to follow that recipe - and barely escaped McMahon Stadium with a 25-23 win on Labour Day, even though the team led 20-1 at halftime.

The Eskimos ran the ball just 11 times for just 41 yards on Monday afternoon.

Former CFL all-star Mike Jenkins only carried the ball eight times for 30 yards in his Edmonton debut. "I've got a long way to go," said Jenkins, describing his first regular-season game since November 2003.

After rumbling for a first down on his first carry with the green and gold, Jenkins was stymied for the rest of the afternoon, averaging about three yards per touch.

"We've got to execute and move the ball down field (in our next game)," continued Jenkins. "If we're running the ball, we've got to get six yards (a carry)."

But Jenkins might not be running the ball Friday. He returned to Edmonton with a foot injury.

"The only (player) that is doubtful right now (for Friday) is Jenkins," said Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia.

Based on how Jenkins responds to treatments, Maciocia will make a decision today.

If Jenkins can't start, Ron McClendon will likely return to the starting roster.

Regardless of who is carrying the ball, a productive and often-used ground game will also help keep quarterback Ricky Ray from being pelted to the ground.

The Calgary Stampeders brought plenty of heat in the second half on Monday, knowing the Eskimos predictable passing offence.

"If we're predictable ... then they (the opposition) will bring pressure," explained Jenkins. "And if we're second and 10, they will bring pressure."

Ray was sacked four times - three times from blitzing linebacker John Grace - on Labour Day.

He was also repeatedly hurried in the second half, as the offence mustered just 62 net yards.

EXTRA POINTS: For the first time in years, the Eskimos will not be offering their popular school ticket program during Friday's tilt.

In the past, hundreds of children attended the traditional Calgary-Edmonton game in early September for free using vouchers available at school. But that has changed after significant feedback.

"We consistently got (comments) from schools (explaining) that there isn't enough time to distribute the vouchers because they have so many things going on at the first of the year," said Rick LeLacheur, the Eskimos' COO.

So, the school program has been moved to the Sept. 24 game versus the B.C. Lions.

That Saturday game features a 5 p.m. start, as opposed to the 7 p.m. start on Friday, meaning it might be more appealing to parents with young children.

"And B.C. has always been a lot tougher draw than Saskatchewan or Calgary," continued LeLacheur.

To avoid confusion, the Eskimos will not send vouchers to schools until after Friday's game.


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