Esks run with Ranek

Former Hamilton Tiger-Cats running back Josh Ranek signed a two-year contract with the Edmonton...

Former Hamilton Tiger-Cats running back Josh Ranek signed a two-year contract with the Edmonton Eskimos and should provide some strong competition for incumbent Troy Davis. (Winnipeg Sun File/Chris Procaylo)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:35 AM ET

The Little Ball of Hate is hoping to resurrect his football career in Edmonton.

But while former all-star tailback Josh Ranek is the newest member of the Eskimos, Troy Davis's future is now very much in limbo.

Although Davis rushed for 1,060 yards behind a rebuilding offensive line last year, he's now one of four import running backs on the roster after the Green and Gold announced yesterday that Ranek has signed a two-year contract.

With Antonio Warren and Ron McClendon also part of the mix, it's a very crowded backfield at the moment.

But there is no guarantee Davis will be invited to training camp.

Adding fuel to the speculation fire, head coach Danny Maciocia isn't going to make any decision on Davis until next month.

"When the (coaching) staff is complete, we're scheduled to meet in Edmonton on Feb. 5, the day after the Super Bowl," said Maciocia.

"At that point we're going to start sitting down and evaluating all of our personnel."

Making matters even more interesting, Maciocia and agent Bob Kirchheimer have differing stories on Davis's current contract situation.

Maciocia is very certain the Eskimos picked up the option year on Davis's contract.

"I am 99.9% sure we picked up everybody's option," said the coach.

BEING VERY COY

"Having said that, it doesn't mean that they are all going to be members of the Edmonton Eskimos (during the season)."

Kirchheimer hasn't received notification of the contract extension and is being very coy about his client's future.

When asked if Davis wants to return to Edmonton this summer, he politely ducked the question.

"I spoke with the club (yesterday) and obviously there is competition," said Kirchheimer.

"Troy rushed for 1,000 yards last year, helped the team win a Grey Cup the year before and in terms of blocking, I don't think you'll find many better."

As for Ranek, he's just hoping to prove there is something left in the tank after a disastrous 2006 campaign in Hamilton.

PARTIAL TEAR

After three straight 1,000-yard seasons in Ottawa, Ranek partially tore an MCL on Labour Day, ending his year.

"You see it happen time and time again - a guy could have a stellar career for five years and then that next year he gets hurt or doesn't produce and in the eyes of the public they are washed up," said Ranek, 28.

"That unfortunately happened to me last year.

"But I believe in my abilities and I believe I can still perform to an all-star calibre.

"(The MCL) has been healed for quite some time and I have been training on it for the last month."

Although he's barely 5-foot-9 on the height chart, Ranek has the unique nickname for his aggressive - if not angry - running style.

It's a style that helped earn him three straight East Division all-star nods with Ottawa.

Combine that with his reliable hands (an average of 700 receiving yards in 2004 and 2005) and Maciocia believes he has a major weapon.

"Josh is one of the CFL's elite running backs and arguably the league's best north-south runner," he said. "We expect he'll be a very important part of our offence."


Videos

Photos