Charles in Esks' camp
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
|Running back Hugh Charles runs in for a touchdown against the Stampeders in Regina, Sask., Aug. 12, 2011. (DAVID STOBBE/Reuters)
EDMONTON - The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ loss is Hugh Charles’ gain.
The import running back made an appearance at Commonwealth Stadium for the first time since being traded to the Edmonton Eskimos last week — a move that extends his 2011 season.
With his former squad now officially out of playoff contention, Charles has jumped ship in time to help the Eskimos fight for post-season positioning.
“It’s a good opportunity to show my talents on another team,” said the five-foot-eight, 190-pound Colorado product. “A lot of guys in Saskatchewan got upset that I got traded to a playoff team but I’m excited.
“I think it’s going to be great going to the playoffs and hopefully making that Grey Cup run. I’ve been in two Grey Cups and haven’t won a ring yet.”
Charles said he felt something was up as last week’s trade deadline neared.
“I did. You know, you get that gut feeling and that intuition that women have,” said Charles, who comes in exchange for a conditional selection in the 2014 draft. “But I felt it coming and I ended up in a good spot.”
In six games backing up Wes Cates this year, Charles earned 242 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries and 94 yards and two TDs on 15 catches, as well as 296 return yards on 14 kickoffs.
But it wasn’t that long ago he was facing the Eskimos defence in third-and-two and failed to pick up the conversion.
“That’s exactly why they’re where they’re at right now,” Charles said. “The defence, they brought a lot of guys in and they’re dominating.
“They’re my teammates now and my guys, so I don’t have any hard feelings for what they did a week ago.”
While Charles’ status as an American player doesn’t exactly fit into the non-import role the Eskimos running back position has assumed over the season, having another body at the position doesn’t hurt heading down the playoff stretch, said Kavis Reed.
“When we traded for him, we had an idea of what he could bring to this football team. Right now, we’re looking at him as a guy that provides us with a lot of depth, both as a returner and as a running back. We have to make certain going down the stretch that we have ourselves secured in case of injuries — something we’ve suffered a lot of this year — so he’s one of those guys that’s a double-threat.
“That’s the reason he is on this team.”
RUNWAY BACK: Coming to Edmonton, Charles is looking for his career to take off, literally.
“When I was 16, I got my solo licence, but I was in football ... and couldn’t fly enough hours to get my pilot’s licence,” said Charles. “I was a solo pilot for a year and then it expired. So it’s something I may look at as a Plan B whenever I get done football.”
RUNNING BACK-FLIP: Charles is looking to bring the back-flip back to Commmonwealth.
“Definitely, I want to bring it back,” said Charles, who goes head-over-heels in the end zone. “I think Gizmo Williams was the first one to bring it here, so I want to bring it back to Eskimo Town and show this city what I’ve got.
“It’s my tradition.”
And has been ever since starting gymnastics at age six, while growing up in Dallas, Texas.