Eskimos put the ball in Kerry Joseph's hands vs. Argos
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
|Eskimos quarterbacks Kerry Joseph (back) and Matt Nichols take some snaps during pracitce at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alta., Nov. 6, 2012. (PERRY MAH/QMI Agency)
EDMONTON - The Edmonton Eskimos climbed off the fence and announced their starting quarterback and running back following Thursday’s practice — the last one before flying to Toronto for Sunday’s East Division semifinal
Kerry Joseph will be behind center to start against the Argonauts, while Hugh Charles is returning from a knee injury that kept him out of the last two games of the regular season.
Joseph, who was named QB1 when head coach Kavis Reed assumed the additional duty of offensive co-ordinator on Sept. 30, started every game since, except for last week’s regular-season finale.
Having already earned a playoff spot with a Hamilton Tiger-Cats loss a day earlier, Reed opted to go with backup Matt Nichols against the Calgary Stampeders, which led to questions surrounding the quarterback situation heading into playoffs.
“I spoke with both of them this morning,” Reed said Thursday. “Both of them are very happy about the situation. Matt knows that he has an opportunity (to get into the game) and Kerry knows that the ball is in his hand to get us off to a fast start.”
The Eskimos went all 18 games of the regular season this year without managing a touchdown on their opening drive.
Whether or not Joseph is able to engineer one Sunday, Reed opted to go with the 16-year veteran’s experience to kick things off.
“In a post-season game, Kerry has won a Grey Cup, he’s been an MVP,” Reed said. “This is a one-and-done, this is an elimination game.
“Kerry Joseph has the best understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish and he’s been on this stage before.”
In 2007, Joseph led the Saskatchewan Roughriders to a Grey Cup championship on the way to being named league most outstanding player. But he spent the next two seasons the Argonauts after former Roughriders (and, more recently, Eskimos) general manager Eric Tillman refused to give him a pay bump.
“I think about getting released in 2010, that never leaves your mind,” said Joseph, who was out of football for part of that season before Tillman gave him another chance on Edmonton’s practice roster where he ran the scout offence. “I had some tough years there in Toronto. It’s a new regime there, though. But you still have that bitterness, some things you don’t forget and you kind of use some things as far as motivation.
“It’ll be special to go back there and get another win.”
His last one against the Argos was on Aug. 27, when he came in early to relieve an injured Steven Jyles to put up 23 points in a 26-17 victory.
As for the ground game on Sunday, the only question remains whether it will be Cory Boyd or Jerome Messam spelling the feature back off.
“We have to decide on the backup guys, but we decided that Hugh gives us a very good opportunity in terms of his versatility,” Reed said. “The other two, we will have on the 46 (man active roster), possibly, and that means we have time to make that decision.”