Esks go back to the future

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:10 PM ET

The leash on Damien Anderson has just become much shorter.

Publicly stating the running game needs to get better after two regular-season games, Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia has brought back AJ Harris and Ron McClendon.

While Anderson captured the starting running back job in training camp - forcing Harris and McClendon to be cut last month - there is very little fear from the opposition in Edmonton's rushing attack.

Anderson has a rather ineffective 3.4-yard average per carry through Week 2 of the season as the Green and Gold's main tailback.

So, it really isn't a surprise that Harris reappeared yesterday on the Esks' 46-man active roster and McClendon was on the practice roster.

"These are two individuals that when we had to let them go at the end of training camp, we didn't have any place for them," said Maciocia.

"Now we have a couple of openings and we have brought them back."

To make room for Harris on the active roster, linebacker Kenny Onatolu has been pushed to the practice roster.

The release of linebacker Shonda Faulkner yesterday opened a position for McClendon on the practice roster.

Faulkner's tenure with the club essentially ended when Edmonton signed Trey Young last week.

But more importantly, Maciocia now has options for who will start at running back on Thursday night against the visiting Toronto Argos (8 p.m., CHED).

In yesterday's limited practice, Anderson and Harris split first-team reps.

In the preseason, Harris was the more effective rusher. The rookie had a solid 6.6-yard average per carry in the two exhibition games, compared to Anderson's 3.1-yard average.

But Harris was sent home to the Chicago suburb of Wheaton, Ill.

"I think I remember everything (in the offence), basically," said Harris before stepping on the practice field yesterday.

As for Anderson, he's handling everything in typical low-key fashion.

"There is no ill will toward any person," said the former member of the Arizona Cardinals. "It is football. I am too old for that. I am not going to be mad at one person because they bring him in to compete. That is childish to me.

"I talked to Goldie (McClendon) every day when he wasn't on the team. The only reason I didn't talk to AJ was because he was in Chicago."

Anderson slipped twice on the Commonwealth Stadium grass field last Thursday in Edmonton's second regular season game, which didn't help (with his 2.4-yard average per carry) in the 34-31 win against Calgary.

But he still didn't seem frustrated with his results.

"They were new shoes," said Anderson on slipping twice on the field. "Other than that, I felt great. I had a good game."

Maciocia is being very careful not to place the rushing woes completely on Anderson's shoulders.

"It is not one or two or three individuals that come into play. It starts with the coaches - myself and the whole offensive staff - the offensive line, the quarterback and the running backs," said the bench boss.

"That is what it comes down to, making sure we are running the ball not into a loaded deck, giving our guys an opportunity to block it up up front.

"We all have to take a share of the responsibility."

Specifically, Maciocia wants to be able to run the ball effectively on the second-and-short situations.

Anderson failed three times to get a first down last Thursday when given the ball in second-and-short.


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