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JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

Calvin McCarty seems to be on target for his first ever start at running back for the Edmonton Eskimos.

The non-import tailback is taking reps with the first-team offence in practice this week, which is a good indicator that he will start on Saturday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Commonwealth Stadium (5 p.m., CHED).

Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia will not confirm that McCarty will be his starter.

However, Maciocia has indicated he wants to get the 2007 fourth-round draft pick more involved in the running game this week.

That doesn't come as a surprise after the Esks running game was practically non-existent in Winnipeg last Friday, gaining just 35 measly yards in the 30-23 loss.

"It would be nice if we got it going," said Maciocia on the run game.

"There is no question we need to have some success with it. "I am not saying we have to go out there and rush for 150 (yards). If we can rush for anywhere in between 75 and 110 that would be good.

"Five yards (a carry) is all your asking for."

Edmonton didn't get that last week against Winnipeg.

Ron McClendon - making his second straight start for injured AJ Harris - had just 26 yards on six carries last Friday for a 4.3-yard average.

That's not good enough.

Expect McClendon to sit this week, allowing import Garrick Jones on the roster on the offensive line.

While only used in a back-up role this year, McCarty has an impressive 7.3-yard average per carry.

That is the best number on the team.

Since Harris suffered an MCL sprain and was forced to miss the last two games, the coaching staff felt McCarty was better utilized on special teams.

However, that line of thinking seems to be changing.

The Esks have been auditioning other players in practice this week with the hope of filling some of McCarty's special teams assignments.

Harris appears to be getting closer to returning to action, but will apparently miss this week's game.

If he's ready to play next week, this could just be a one-game start for McCarty.

But very little bothers this second-year Eskimo.

With the exception of someone rubbing balloons together - which is high on his list of pet peeves - McCarty is a cool customer.

Even though he appeared to be the most deserving candidate to become the starting tailback three weeks ago in Harris's absence, he didn't complain when McClendon got the nod.

"I know my role," said the 23-year-old B.C. native.

"My role coming in was to be a back-up and play special teams. I played a lot the previous two games before (going to) Montreal (when McClendon got his first start). But that was kind of out of the norm."

While run production is part of the reason for the likely change at running back, the ratio is probably another factor.

The Esks need seven starting non-imports and McCarty helps in that category with the loss of non-import Joe McGrath on the offensive line this week.


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