Done like Diedrick

Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia says recently released running back Dahrran Diedrick was...

Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia says recently released running back Dahrran Diedrick was not prepared when the CFL season started last month. (Edmonton Sun/Brendon Dlouhy)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

Dahrran Diedrick appears to have all the physical tools to be a good running back or kick returner in the Canadian Football League.

With a chiselled, but quick, body frame, he rushed for nearly 3,000 yards at the University of Nebraska, ranking him in the top 10 in the school's illustrious history.

But with the Edmonton Eskimos, the physically gifted runner was missing one key piece to the puzzle: solid mental preparation.

And that is one of the main reasons why the defending Grey Cup champions released him yesterday.

"I think the opportunity was given to him, and unfortunately it didn't work out," said Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia, who had watched Diedrick in 10 games last year and through almost two months this season.

"Maybe him going elsewhere will provide a spark for him."

After bouncing around with three NFL teams for a couple of years, Diedrick came to Edmonton last September with plenty of hype and potential.

A non-import running back with talent can allow a team to dress an import elsewhere.

FALLEN OUT OF FAVOUR

But that potential didn't transform into great results on the field - and he had clearly fallen out of favour with Maciocia and his coaches two weeks ago when he was taken off the roster and stashed on the injured list.

The roster shuffling prompted Diedrick to question if the club wanted him, which sparked Maciocia to publicly criticize the running back's preparation skills.

So it's not surprising to see the two sides continue to differ after yesterday's decision.

After being released, Diedrick admitted he wasn't prepared for Calgary's defence in the season opener, but was prepared for the rest of the games this year.

"And if I got the opportunity to go in the game, I would have done well," quipped Diedrick. "I really didn't get an opportunity to do anything. I didn't touch the field once this season (in three regular-season games)."

Behind all-star Troy Davis at running back, Diedrick wasn't going to rush the ball unless there was an injury this year.

Davis actually arrived in Edmonton shortly after Diedrick last year, which meant the Nebraska grad was going to get little chance to strut his stuff at any point on offence.

TRIED TO HELP HIM

But he had been stripped this year of his special teams duty of being a returner.

Behind the scenes, his teammates tried to help him.

"He would come and talk to us and ask how he could improve," said veteran Ed Hervey.

"The main part of this game is watching film and getting with the coaches and understanding what your assignment is."

But not knowing his assignments isn't the only reason why he was released, according to Maciocia.

The native of Jamaica - who qualified as a non-import - was also caught in a numbers game.Loaded with talented Canadians - Mike Bradley, Mike Maurer, Mathieu Bertrand and Jarred Winkel - who can carry the ball and play special teams, the Esks wanted to make a move.

"We do have budgetary constraints - as surprising as it may sound," said Maciocia.

"We have to get down to certain numbers, whether it is the number of bodies or dollars and cents."

Now Diedrick is looking for another team that will give him a paycheque.

"But I am sure I will be picked up," he said yesterday afternoon.

One thing is definitely certain, though: the Eskimos will notice his absence in the locker-room.

"He was the guy on the team that made everybody laugh," said Davis. "We're all going to miss him."


Photos