Charles claims he's ready to play in East semfinal
Eskimos’ starting running back has missed last two games with a knee injury
Quarterback Kerry Joseph hands off the ball to tailback Hugh Charles in a CFL game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Commonwealth Stadium on Sat., Oct. 13, 2012.
EDMONTON - The regular season was cut short for Hugh Charles, painfully short, given the year the all-purpose back was having with the Edmonton Eskimos.
But Charles is not only back on the practice field, it looks like he’ll back in the starting lineup for Sunday’s East Division semifinal showdown against the Toronto Argonauts.
“I just needed time. Now it doesn’t even feel like anything ever happened,” he said after getting in regular work during Tuesday’s offensive drills.
Charles deftly covered 887 yards on the ground — good enough for fifth overall in the CFL — and another 522 on 32 catches when he was forced to leave the lineup with a knee injury on Oct. 19. With two regular-season games left to play, he had come so tantalizing close to hitting the 1,000 yard milestone for the first time in his career.
Throw in his eight touchdowns and it’s not hard to understand why he was such a factor in the Eskimos offence before his knee was hyperextended when he was clipped by a B.C. Lions defender.
“What was on my mind was to make it back for the playoffs. Everything I had been dreaming and hoping has come to fruition,” he said. “This injury just needed some time to heal. I’m not feeling any effects from it now.
“I had had a few goals,” he said, “like hitting the 1,000-yard mark, and some more incentives on my contract. It was just unfortunate ... because the only way this injury would have happened was getting hit the way I did.
“Now we’re in the playoffs and, with a win, we can keep going.”
Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed wasn’t prepared to officially hand off the starting job to Charles, but it would take a medical setback to keep him out of the lineup.
The residual factor is that running back Cory Boyd, who was pinch-hitting in the absence of Charles, had such an impressive game against the Calgary Stampeders that Reed said he would merit consideration as the feature back.
There just won’t be room for three backs, so the Eskimos will either have to find a way to add a non-import elsewhere on the roster if they opted to sit Jerome Messam and send out both Boyd and Charles, or, Messam will play with Charles, bumping Boyd to the sideline.
“(Charles) has done everything we’ve asked him to do,” said Reed. “He’s been an exceptional runner, very prolific out of the backfield, therefore I think he’s put himself in that discussion as one of the elite players in this league.”
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