EDMONTON - Arkee Whitlock ran out of luck.
The Edmonton Eskimos released the third-year running back Sunday, following a pair of sub-par performances after being shelved by injury for 10 months.
After spending the 2008 season with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, the five-foot-nine, 203-pound Southern Illinois product came to Edmonton where he rushed for 1,293 yards on 211 carries as a CFL rookie.
But a foot injury suffered last Labour Day interrupted his stride and Whitlock was unable to regain his footing, missing half a season only to come up lame with a hamstring injury in training camp.
“He essentially ran into a situation where he didn’t have an opportunity to go through training camp,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed.
In Whitlock’s absence, veteran Calvin McCarty, second-year import Daniel Porter and newcomer Jerome Messam shared backfield duties with surprising success. Whitlock, meanwhile, dropped a pass in the end zone his first game back and had some trouble hanging onto the football with an untimely fumble against the Toronto Argonauts last Friday.
“He showed that he still has it, but Jerome Messam, Daniel Porter and Calvin McCarty have been performing at a high level as well,” said Reed, who made it a priority to let Whitlock try to work his way back into the lineup. “Because of Arkee’s contributions to the franchise, as a coach, I thought it was only fair.
“We do know that Arkee is going to play football somewhere very soon, it’s just that right now we have a full backfield and he, unfortunately, was the odd-guy out.”
Also released Sunday was rookie return man Ray Fisher, who was a casualty of a return game that has yet to develop at the same pace as the other areas that have helped push the Eskimos to a 5-0 start.
“No, we know that it’s an area that we have to address and we’re being proactive about that,” Reed said. “We have to make space in order to be able to address that situation.”