Fleet feet abandon Eskimos

Even though he spent much of last weekend's game running from the Alouettes defence, Eskimos...

Even though he spent much of last weekend's game running from the Alouettes defence, Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray ran for more yards than his backs. (OLIVIER JEAN/Reuters)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:18 PM ET

EDMONTON - The last time Ricky Ray headed the charge for the Edmonton Eskimos with a 140-yard performance in a game against the B.C. Lions last year, he still didn’t outdo his running backs.

But last week, he accomplished that feat with a QB keeper for one yard.

And that single yard was more productivity than running backs Calvin McCarty (two carries for one yard) and Jerome Messam (four carries for minus-three yards, with a fumble).

All told, the offence ended up with one fewer rushing yard than it went in with.

“That’s definitely not going to get it done, we’ve got to be able to run the football better than that,” said Ray. “We did a good job early in the season running the football, so we’ve just got to get back to controlling the line of scrimmage and being balanced.”

But the running game wasn’t abandoned on purpose, as the Eskimos fell behind 20-3 to the Montreal Alouettes by halftime.

“I think we just got off to such a poor start that we were trying to get a rhythm going and we just kind of got away from it a little bit,” said Ray. “It was just one of those games where we just made a ton of mistakes.

“It seemed like once we did get things going, we had a penalty or something like that that kind of threw out that momentum.”

And threw the Eskimos’ running playbook out the window.

“It was rough,” said Messam. “Montreal’s D came out and played a good game. It was just a lot of pressure. They were filling holes, they were mixing and matching their blitzes and stuff.”

“You get frustrated, you know? But it’s a team effort, so you can’t really worry too much about your personal performance.”

Not that anyone would accuse the six-foot-three, 240-pound back of not putting in enough effort after dishing out — and being served — his share of punishment.

“I took a few hits, got beat up a little bit,” said Messam.

The same went for the entire offence, which was kept out of the end zone.

“You can’t be one-dimensional in any offence,” Ray said. “You’ve got to be able to run the football, mix things up, have some play action to go along with the passing game.

“The more balanced you can be, the better an offence you’ll be.”

Especially this week, where the Eskimos will face the Lions without any of their four import starting receivers due to injury.

“With the new faces that we have in the receiving corps, we’ve got to find other areas to help these guys out,” said Ray. “That’s what we did earlier in the season, we were getting good play all around the board offensively.

“That’s what we’ve got to get back to, is being good with the run, good with the pass. Making some big plays, protecting the football. Doing all those good things we did earlier in the season.”

IN AND OUT: The Eskimos released starting LT Cliff Washburn, KR Brandon James and LB Rico McCoy.

Sidelined were SB Jason Barnes, OL Junius Coston (knee), WR Marcus Henry (concussion), and DB Brian Bonner (hamstring), CB Rod Williams (hamstring) and OL Junius Coston (knee).

WR Adarius Bowman (ribs) was back practising, along with DT Dee Sterling (knee), who saw his first activity since having off-season knee surgery.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SunModdejonge


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