Breakout games by Romar Morris and the return of Don Jackson from injury suddenly gives the Calgary Stampeders an embarrassment of riches at running back.
With Morris, Jackson and Terry Williams all available for Friday’s home game against the Toronto Argonauts, Stampeder head coach Dave Dickenson had decisions to make.
Dickenson was coy Thursday listing all three on his 46-man roster, even though he said he’d already made up his mind about who is in and who is out.
“You’d like to have continuity,” Dickenson said. “It doesn’t mean they have to be the only guy carrying the ball.
“I think all three running backs can do different types of things, different skill sets.
“I always think you’d like to have a guy you’d get 70 or 80 per cent of the carries and if they can stay in there, I think you’ll be better.”
With 603 yards in seven games, Jackson has been Calgary’s No. 1 rusher when healthy.
With him sidelined the last two games, Morris came off the practice roster to score five touchdowns – two receiving – and compile 271 yards from scrimmage.
Williams, working primarily as a returner, has scored touchdowns on three punts and ranks third in the league in return yards with 583.
“We’re just competing to make the team better at this point,” Jackson said. “As far as the playing time thing, that’s the least of our worries.
“Everybody wants to make sure that when their number is called, they can make an impact.”
Calgary (10-2) tops the CFL’s West Division and can clinch a playoff spot for a club-record 14th season with a win Friday.
Toronto (3-9) sits third in the East Division. The Argonauts risk getting pushed out of the post-season by either Edmonton (7-6) or B.C. (6-6) in a cross-over from the West.
Rushing is one of the few statistical categories the Stampeders don’t lead this season. Calgary ranks fifth in the league in rushing yards (1,279) and is tied for seventh in rushing touchdowns with nine.
With Calgary’s star receivers Kamar Jorden (knee) and DaVaris Daniels (broken collarbone) recently sidelined long term, and Eric Rogers not quite ready to return from Aug. 1 knee surgery, Markeith Ambles will make his CFL debut.
Despite the rotation at receiver, Stampeder quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell is on pace for a career-high season in passing yards averaging 302.5 per game.
“Defence decides were the ball goes. We don’t decide,” Dickenson said. “Bo’s doing a nice job spreading it around and making sure he finds the open guy.”
When Calgary and Toronto met in Week 2, Argos quarterback Ricky Ray suffered a season-ending neck injury in a 41-7 loss.
His replacement McLeod Bethel-Thompson (2-4) has thrown for 1,637 yards and eight touchdowns, but the Argos have lost four in a row in the fourth quarter.
“I think if you asked other teams they would tell you we are not a 3-9 football team in the way we prepare and the way we play,” Bethel-Thompson said.
With just a third of the regular season remaining, Toronto slotback S.J. Green is aware the Argos are running out of runway for a playoff berth.
“I think you have to have a sense of urgency knowing the season is coming to a close,” Green said. “We’re at that crossroads where we either have to win or go home.”
TORONTO (3-9) AT CALGARY (10-2)
Friday night, McMahon Stadium
McCLUSTER DEBUT: Former NFL Pro Bowl running back/returner Dexter McCluster will make his CFL debut Friday with the Argos.
BYE BYE BYE: Calgary is coming off its final bye week of the season and is 11-1 since 2011 after a week off.
SACKS NEEDED: With just 13 sacks, Toronto is on pace for a franchise-low 19. Only the 2002 Saskatchewan Roughriders had fewer than 20 in a season (16).
KICKING CONUNDRUM: Argos head coach Marc Trestman said Argos kicker Zach Medeiros was questionable for Friday after an injury suffered last week against Saskatchewan. University of Montreal product Felix Menard-Briere, 22, was added to Toronto’s practice roster Monday.