Watch Tyler run

New Eskimos running back Tyler Ebell talks to a coach during Tuesday practice at Clarke Park in...

New Eskimos running back Tyler Ebell talks to a coach during Tuesday practice at Clarke Park in Edmonton. (Sun Media/Perry Mah)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

Tyler Ebell has been fired from one job but apparently rehired for another.

After botching a punt return in Regina last weekend, the rookie has lost that role on special teams.

However, it appears he will be the Edmonton Eskimos' starting running back on Saturday when the Calgary Stampeders come to Commonwealth Stadium.

With a stagnant running game during the last three weeks with Ron "Goldie" McClendon at the helm, the move isn't a surprise.

But there is no running back controversy. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

McClendon actually approached the coaches about giving Ebell the ball.

"He is the ultimate team player," said Ebell on McClendon.

"He just wants to win, regardless of who is carrying the ball."

Head coach Danny Maciocia - understandably - hasn't officially declared Ebell the starting tailback this week, but yesterday's practice pretty much spelled that out.

The Eskimos' top offensive outing this year came with Ebell carrying the ball against Winnipeg in the regular-season opener.

The rookie piled up 132 rushing yards in a 39-39 tie.

With Ebell so effective on the ground, the Bomber defence couldn't just pin its ears and fly straight at Ricky Ray's throat on a pass rush.

In the first two games of the year, Ebell racked up 153 rushing yards for a 6.4-yard average.

But he was yanked in Week 3 when McClendon returned from a hamstring injury suffered in training camp. Since then, Goldie has mustered just 89 rushing yards in three games for a 3.9-yard average.

"The media is roasting us about our run game," said McClendon.

"We should change it up and really give him (Ebell) the ball.

"I went to Danny and that was actually my suggestion: let's get both of us involved."

McClendon actually believes Ebell is better in one certain package of Eskimo offensive plays because he ran that type of offence in high school and college - so he is more familiar at making the proper reads at high speed.

McClendon will stay on the roster this week, but in a much more limited role.

It appears he will be used in a small variety of plays and could be a backup in the special teams return game.

Quarterback Ricky Ray admits it really doesn't matter who is playing running back.

"All that matters is hopefully we can be a little bit more effective with the running game," said Ray.

"If we are able to go out there and run the football and pick up four or five yards on first down it helps out my job throwing the ball on second down."

It's interesting to note that Ebell scored a touchdown on Edmonton's opening drive of the regular season.

That is the only time this year Edmonton has marched down the field and produced a major to open the scoring.

"Tyler is a little bit different than Goldie," continued Ray.

"Goldie is probably a little better in open space.

"Tyler - when he finds a crease - can hit it pretty good. He is a downhill runner. He does good catching the ball out of the backfield."

Although he has started just twice, Ebell is fifth on the team in receiving with nearly a seven-yard average out of the backfield.

FINISH LINES: Watch for Ebell to still handle kickoff returns with Fred Stamps this week.


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