Coach likes McCarty's game

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

He might not be the next best thing.

With Arkee Whitlock shelved on the nine-game injured list for the rest of the regular season, Calvin McCarty is more like the other best thing.

He will make his debut as the Edmonton Eskimos feature back this season in place of the injured starter.

"He's a different type of runner. Arkee's a tackle-to-tackle slasher with the ability to make you miss. Calvin's got the ability to make you miss, too," said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall. "Calvin's kind of a three-dimensional horse: he's great with pass-pro(tection), runs routes and can catch the ball, and he can run with the ball. He's an all-around back.

"They complement each other with what they do, but right now Arkee's hurt and Calvin's going to take advantage of his situation."

Especially since the opportunity hasn't presented itself very often for McCarty.

"I've been waiting, and I hate to see a guy go down to get a shot, but I've been here a while and I've been ready to go," said McCarty, who was drafted by Edmonton in 2007 before having a breakout season the following year with 490 rushing yards and 583 receiving yards thanks to more touches after starting three games in place of the injured A.J. Harris.

"In 2008, it was me and A.J. Really, I had combined about 1,100 yards off of three starts," McCarty said. "And then the next year they tried some things, we'll just leave it at that. I've never accepted that, I never agreed with that. I came in and wanted to work hard expecting that if I work hard, things would work out."

The Eskimos passed over McCarty in favour of a nearly 15-minute stint with Jesse Lumsden, before sticking with Whitlock through an unforgettably atrocious CFL debut against the Montreal Alouettes where he dropped two passes in the end zone and nearly fumbled his future away.

While Whitlock made the most of his opportunity by going on to become the club's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006, McCarty isn't about to let his opportunity go, either.

"It's another game, an opportunity and I'm happy. I plan on doing the most with it," McCarty said. "From preseason on, not much has been said about it, but me and Arkee know there's not a better tandem in the league, all-around."

And there's not a person pulling harder for McCarty to succeed than Whitlock.

"Me and Calvin are best friends," he said. "He can get into game mode. It's an opportunity for him to go out there and it's his backfield right now."

Even when he's not starting, McCarty is an invaluable tool at running back and on special teams.

"You've got to have a guy like Cal on your team because he can do everything," Whitlock said. "He can do my job just as good if not better. He's a very unselfish guy and I enjoy playing with him because we're very close. Being in that situation of me being a starter and him being capable of starting but not starting, he doesn't even look at it like that. We're trying to get better and we just work on trying to help each other out.

"It was hurtful that I was hurt, but I was way more excited having him back, knowing we had somebody that could fill in for me just as good as I could."


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