Esks look to turn negative to positive

Eskimos running back Jerome Messam was held to -3 yards last time the club met the Alouettes. (QMI...

Eskimos running back Jerome Messam was held to -3 yards last time the club met the Alouettes. (QMI Agency file photo)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:45 PM ET

EDMONTON - The Edmonton Eskimos may not have been in much of a rush to play the Montreal Alouettes again.

After all, they were held to negative rushing yards the first time around, during a Week 7 visit out east.

But that doesn’t mean the West Division-leading Eskimos are about to back down in Friday’s rematch at Commonwealth Stadium.

“It was tough, but it was a different team that we put on the field in Montreal, so maybe the outcome will be different this week,” said Jerome Messam, who was held to minus three rushing yards on four carries in that 27-4 loss on Aug. 11. “Every week, we want to be able to run the ball, establish the run game. It definitely helps with the time of possession and just wearing defences down.

“Hopefully we can run the ball well this week.”

Like he did last week, with 139 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries against the Hamilton Tiger-cats.

But this week, he’s up against an Alouettes defence that allows a league-low 79.6 rushing yards per game.

“We had a good game last week, but we’ve got to build on it, man,” said Eskimos centre Kyle Koch, who assumed the starting role in that Montreal game after veteran Aaron Fiacconi was sidelined by a torn rotator cuff. “It’s one game at a time and the week before doesn’t mean anything.

“We’ve got to be able to come in and do the same thing week-in and week-out.”

So an off week, where the offence is actually pushed backwards along the ground, is something the O-line doesn’t take lightly.

“Obviously,” Koch said. “Our job is to make holes and protect Ricky (Ray). When we’re running the ball and Ricky’s throwing it, we’re doing something right, hopefully.”

Change has been the only constant along the O-line, which has seen different combinations over the first half of the season.

But the current configuration has played together for the past three weeks now, earning a 2-1 record in that stretch.

“Every week you get to play another week together is another week of continuity,” Koch said. “You can go out and practise and do all that kind of stuff, but when the bullets are flying, that’s when guys have got to be able to be on the same page and everybody’s got to be working together.”

HOWARD YOU DOING?: DE Marcus Howard worked out on the sidelines Thursday instead of participating in the team’s walk-through.

“Marcus has a bit of tightness in his hamstring,” head coach Kavis Reed said. “We decided we were going to give him the last two days off and let him rest.

“He will be on the roster (Friday).”

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