Eskimos running back Jerome Messam ready to capitalize on his opportunity

There's a good chance Jerome Messam will have a bigger role in Sunday's game at Montreal should...

There's a good chance Jerome Messam will have a bigger role in Sunday's game at Montreal should Hugh Charles be unable to go. (David Bloom, Edmonton Sun)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:07 PM ET

EDMONTON - It wasn't quite a full year ago that Hugh Charles was taking over the starting role as Edmonton Eskimos running back for an injured Jerome Messam.

This week, it will likely be the other way around.

After leaving last Friday's game against the B.C. Lions early, Charles has sat this week of practice out with a knee injury, which is a role-reversal, of sorts, compared to last year, when Messam tore his meniscus in the West semifinal against the Calgary Stampeders.

With just two games left in the 2012 regular season and the Stampeders having locked up as semifinal hosts again this year, Messam might just get a do-over.

"I don't know how serious the injury is, but Hugh said he feels good, he's working to get back," Messam said. "I'm sure he's fine."

If not, the optimistic Messam will re-assume the spot he held last year on his way to 1,000 rushing yards and being named CFL most outstanding Canadian.

He used that spotlight as a springboard to his childhood aspirations of getting a chance to play in the NFL, and spent the preseason with the Miami Dolphins. But that meant losing his starring gig with the Eskimos in the meantime.

Chances are good he could find himself back in the feature spot in the backfield Sunday against the Montreal Alouettes (11 a.m., TSN, 630 CHED).

"Just like it played out on Friday, you've got to be ready to go whenever the first guy up goes down," he said. "Practice is very crucial to your preparation on game day."

The exchange of places between the two running backs was an irony not lost on Messam.

"It's better than being hurt," he shrugged. "You definitely don't want to go down, especially this late in the season, but it's just how things worked out.

"Hopefully Hugh gets better as soon as possible, but while I have the opportunity, I'm going to seize it."

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SunModdejonge


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