WINNIPEG - Jason Armstead has returned.
And that’s exactly what his job will be with the Edmonton Eskimos, who have brought the veteran kick returner back into the fold midseason, for the second straight year. Brian Bonner, who’s been returning punts for the Eskimos this season, will be unable to play after hurting his hamstring against Winnipeg Friday.
“We decided we need a veteran guy back there that we can rely on in terms of decision making and also someone that is proven that he is a proven returner in this league,” said head coach Kavis Reed. “Our return game has not been up to par, to our standards and we feel it needed an injection and Jason can add that.”
Reed previously worked with Armstead with the Saskatchewan Roughriders two years ago.
“He was someone that vouched for me in 2009 to come to Saskatchewan, so that has a big play into this role here,” said Armstead. “They wanted to see what role I could play in this with Fred (Stamps) going down, with punt return and kickoff return being in this situation.”
On his first punt return of 2010 after being brought in by the Eskimos in October, Armstead scored a touchdown.
“Last year was a different scenario, we had three games left in the season trying to push for playoffs,” Armstead said. “It’s kind of hard to cram the whole season into three games.
“This time around, you’re dealing with 11-plus games. You have a chance to solidify your position. We’re already on top of the West, but at the same time, there’s a few mishaps here or there.”
After not being invited to any training camps the last two years, the 31-year-old was beginning to think about retirement. Prior to the call from the Eskimos, he was coaching football camps in Mobile, Al., and a bantam-aged football team in Mississippi.
“This is probably the busiest off-season I’ve had as a professional,” said Armstead, who wasn’t sure he’d ever hear back from the Eskimos after the club missed playoffs last season. “I was actually due to go back to school this weekend to Ole Miss where I was doing my undergrad.
“I got another opportunity. Football is a crazy business. It’s like a bad girlfriend, the minute you forget about her she comes calling again. It’s one of those deals, are you willing to take the date or are you willing to move on?”
IN AND OUT: LB Rod Davis (hamstring) and WR Andrew Nowacki (hamstring) both returned to practice on Monday and are probable for Thursday’s game against the Montreal Alouettes.