TORONTO - Job 1 for Chad Kackert is simple: Keep quarterback Ricky Ray on his feet.
“We got a great quarterback in the backfield. If he doesn’t have time to throw the ball then we don’t have a great quarterback in the backfield. That’s first priority. Every running back has run the ball since they were 10 years old. That’s not an issue. If it is (an issue) you won’t see me around here for a long time,” said the Argos’ newest running back.
A fan favourite, Chad Kackert, 25, will start Saturday in Calgary against the Stampeders. He hasn’t dressed since the opening game but rushed for 349 yards last season when he replaced an injured Cory Boyd.
Now, with Boyd released, Kackert gets an opportunity to become a full-time tailback.
“I had a smile on my face most of the day. Unfortunately it came at the cost of another player,” said Kackert, who was spending the bye week vacationing lakeside when he got the phone call from head coach Scott Milanovich. “I don’t feel I’m filling shoes. I feel I’m getting my chance to do what I can do.”
Milanovich believes the Argos will be better with Kackert at tailback. But the club also resigned Gerald Riggs Jr. to the practice squad.
Kackert didn’t want to address what he can bring to the team that Boyd didn’t, saying only that “I guess you could say we play a different style of game but I guess you could say that of any two running backs. I’m just glad I have the opportunity. I’m sure you could make your judgements. I prefer not to comment on it exactly. Coach is making these changes for his reasons. If he believes I can do something different this is my chance to prove him right.”
The Argos are hopeful Kackert will fit into their blocking and passing schemes better than Boyd. He doesn’t have to be the CFL rushing leader.
“I just expect Chad to do his job. He doesn’t need to do anything out of the ordinary. He needs to protect the quarterback and the football when he runs with it,” said Milanovich.
Kackert became a minor CFL sensation when he ripped through the Eskimos defence last season when he replaced Boyd.
“They’re definitely different players,” said Ray. “Chad’s more a speed guy. Cory is powerful. He made some good lateral cuts. A physical guy running off tackle. Chad is more of a scat back. It will change a few things that we do offensively.”
Although Boyd leads the league in rushing with 447 yards, he rushed for 168 of those yards against Hamilton’s weak run defence. He has managed just 130 yards in his last three games, including just 23 yards on eight carries in Toronto’s 18-9 loss to the defending Grey Cup champion B.C. Lions.
Kackert did run for 139 yards against Ray’s Eskimos last year and with Boyd expected to begin practicing Tuesday in Edmonton the two could be facing off Aug. 27 when the teams meet at the Rogers Centre.
By then Milanovich is hopeful the Argonauts’ offence will be better than the one that has scored just 11 points in the past six quarters.
It’s just that he’s not expecting Kackert’s move to No. 1 tailback to be the miracle cure for all that ails the offence.
“Chad’s not somebody who is going to come in and is the answer to all the problems. We don’t expect it to. There are a number of places we need to address. This was one spot. If Chad just gets us a little bit better, and we get a little bit better up front, and we get a bit better at receiver. Then we’re making strides,” said Milanovich.