Backs of the Future

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

If someone told you before this season there would be two Canadian running backs starting in Week 15, you would have guaranteed one was Jesse Lumsden.

While the Hamilton Tiger-Cats outstanding rusher is still sidelined with a shoulder injury, both Calvin McCarty and Neal Hughes carried the mail for the Canadian backs this past week.

In a position usually reserved for imports, both the Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders pulled out victories with their Canadian rushers.

McCarty was the most impressive, rushing for 88 yards on 19 carries, including a four-yard touchdown, and leading the Eskimos in receiving with eight catches for 80 yards.

In the two previous games import A.J. Harris missed, the Eskimos went with Ron McClendon as the starter over McCarty, and they lost both.

Hughes only had nine carries in taking over for the injured Wes Cates for the second straight game, but he had 29 yards and two touchdowns, including the winner, to help the Riders beat the Stamps 37-34.

Lumsden was the only Canadian running back to begin the season as his team's starting tailback, but the power runner has had trouble staying in the lineup.

The argument against using a non-import at the skill position is about being able to maintain the ratio with injuries.

But the quantity and quality of Canadian backs in the league right now should negate that problem.

Along with Hughes, the Riders also have local product Stu Foord on the roster, while the Stamps have Jon Cornish and Montreal uses Kerry Carter and Dahrran Diedrick.

OPENING DRIVE

The playoff games, not including the Grey Cup, will be moved to Saturdays this November ... With Winnipeg losing to Edmonton, the Alouettes clinched first place in the East Division. But this certainly doesn't mean Montreal is a shoo-in to play in its own Grey Cup. Since 1994, the last year a host team won the Cup (B.C. Lions), the home city has gone 1-5 in division finals. The one team to win a divisional final and compete in its own Grey Cup was the 2002 Edmonton Eskimos, which lost to the Alouettes in the big game.

ENDZONE TOSS

Hardly any Stampeders players and coaches knew the rule about staying in bounds on an onside kick. Brandon Browner made a great play on a perfect Sandro DeAngelis kick but Browner's feet landed out. Browner said he would have tried to stay in if he knew the rule, but he wasn't the only one in the dark about what happened. "I've been in the league nine years and it's the first I've heard of it," said Canadian DB/returner Markus Howell ... If Chris Getzlaf continues his play, he may eventually be more popular in Regina than his brother Ryan. The Roughriders receiver made a great debut as a starter, catching five passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. Of course, his brother is a Stanley Cup-winning forward for the Anaheim Ducks ... Argos RB Jamal Robertson is an all-or-nothing rusher. Against the Lions, Robertson had runs of 75 and 48 for touchdowns, but his eight other carries went for 16 yards total.

EXTRA POINTS

The Riders boast some statistical anomalies. They are 4-0 when their opponent scores first, but are 5-0 when they score on their first possession and are 3-1 when they allow between 31 and 40 points ... Many in Saskatchewan believe receiver Weston Dressler is a shoo-in for rookie of the year, but Eskimos returner Tristan Jackson has made more of an impact ... Stamps RB Joffrey Reynolds took the rushing lead from idle Riders RB Wes Cates but it should be a tight race. The Stamps haven't won a league rushing title since 1986 when Gary Allen did it ... Stamps QB Henry Burris moved into second all-time for franchise passing TDs. Burris passed Jeff Garcia with 112. Doug Flutie is first at 140.


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