Is workload taking toll on Argos' Kackert?
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
|Argonauts running back Chad Kackert rushes against the Tiger-Cats at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., Sept. 8, 2012. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)
TORONTO - The book on Chad Kackert is far from complete, its pages dotted with moments of explosiveness, times when he fails to pick up blitzing linebackers, and the inevitable brushes with violence that is the nature of pro football.
Only when he has played an entire season will one be able to properly judge Kackert and see just how he was able to absorb the pounding inherent in playing the running back position.
He’s not a scat-back in the mould of a Brandon Whitaker, and in no way, shape or form is Kackert a downhill runner like his predecessor Cory Boyd.
In many ways, Kackert is unique, but he’s not exempt from the grind of playing a very demanding role, and the toll of back-to-back games against Hamilton within a five-day span has clearly surfaced.
On Wednesday, for example, Kackert’s first-team reps were taken by Gerald Riggs Jr., who may or may not start against B.C. this Saturday as the Argos begin a stretch that sees the team play three straight away games.
By Thursday, a lot more will be known, though it’s not part of football’s routine to ever give an opponent any kind of insight when it’s not mandatory.
“It’s wait and see with Chad,’’ began head coach Scott Milanovich. “We have to prepare like he won’t (be starting).”
With so much that gets played out in any football game, so much gets overlooked, especially when a rivalry is featured and big plays are being produced or yielded on virtually every centre-to-quarterback exchange.
En route to beating up the Ticats to the tune of 45-31, a game in which the Argos led 42-17 midway through the final quarter, Kackert was getting beaten up himself.
During a brief stretch that began late in the third quarter and carried over in the early minutes of the final period, veteran Jeff Johnson had to replace Kackert, who ended the day by accumulating in excess of 200 yards from scrimmage.
Given his low centre of gravity, opponents tackle low, an approach that will compromise ankles, quads and hamstrings.
Kackert isn’t a between-the-tackles runner, preferring to use his quickness by attacking the outside, but he’ll invite contact and Milanovich noticed how Kackert tried to run over Ticat defenders down field.
For now, the Argos aren’t reading anything into Kackert’s ability to withstand sustained punishment until a greater body of work gets compiled.
Then again, no one is injury-free, let-alone a running back.
Maybe it’s just a function of monitoring Kackert’s practice load, perhaps it’s a bigger issue if Kackert is unable to go against the Lions.
Big picture, it could be that Kackert, who started for Boyd last season as an injury fill-in, just isn’t used to the weekly grind given his previous status as backup and his current state might be easily dismissed.
But there is a chance Riggs Jr. ma y get his long-awaited shot.
During the pre-season, he certainly forced the Argos to take a hard look at their backup tailback, running hard out of backfield when touches were given and serving as a reliable receiving threat when asked to run routes.
Riggs Jr. is a little bigger than Kackert and runs more between the tackles than outside.
“He has a burst, too,’’ Milanovich said of Riggs Jr. “They’re both complete backs.
“Chad’s really good in space, catching the ball and making people miss. What makes him special is he gets going so quickly, he’s from stop to full speed so fast that it makes it difficult to get him down. They’re both a little different.”