Edmonton’s backup quarterback Kerry Joseph will get a chance to show his stuff in the Labour Day Classic.
With quarterback Steven Jyles still nursing a knee injury, Joseph has been named the Eskimos’ starter for Monday’s game against the Stampeders (4-4) at McMahon Stadium.
The 38-year-old CFL veteran found out the news Sunday morning prior to boarding the team bus to Calgary.
“Coach (Kavis Reed) let the team know his decision and let everyone know what was going on,” said Joseph, who last started a CFL game in 2009 when he was a member of the Toronto Argonauts.
“It’s been a long time. That was in Toronto, so I forgot those (games). You know what? I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to take the field with my teammates against a good football team on a battleground that’s pretty well known on Labour Day.”
Reed says it isn’t a permanent move and that Jyles will remain atop the depth chart at quarterback for the Eskimos (5-3).
“We went through practice this week and Steven had most of the reps, but the last day of practice, he felt a little bit of a twinge in his leg and we had him assessed,” said Reed.
“The overriding factor was Steven’s health and given the fact that we’re just reaching the half-way point of the season. Steven is our No. 1 quarterback and we don’t want to jeopardize him in a game that’s going to be very intense.”
Joseph completed 13-of-20 passes for 169 yards with two interceptions in a relief appearance against Toronto last Monday. He also had 44 rushing yards and a one-yard touchdown run during Edmonton’s 26-17 road win over the Argos.
“That’s the reason Kerry Joseph is slated No. 2 on our depth chart because we’re comfortable with him being a starter,” Reed said. “We know that this is a very long season, so our focus was making certain we have two quarterbacks prepped. Injuries happen and we are very confident Kerry can lead this football team.”
Calgary linebacker Juwan Simpson didn’t seem too concerned as to which quarterback the Eskimos started on Monday.
“It doesn’t matter at all,” Simpson said. “We’re just going to go out and play football. Jyles is just another Joseph if you ask me. They both can run. They both can throw the ball, have cannons for arms. It really doesn’t matter. We’re just going to go out and play football.”
The annual Labour Day game between the two Alberta rivals will now be a battle of the backups as Kevin Glenn was forced into active duty for the Stamps in just the second week of the season when starter Drew Tate suffered a shoulder injury.
“We play the same position and we’re always wishing each other well,” Joseph said of his counterpart. “It’ll be good to get out there and to see him out there on the other side.”
Stamps head coach John Hufnagel pointed out that both 33-year-old Glenn and Joseph have the advantage of experience on their side.
“Both quarterbacks have played in a lot of big games,” Hufnagel said. “They’re used to rivalries. They’re long-time CFL veterans. I’m sure both will feel the excitement [on Monday] when they come out of the locker room.”
Edmonton’s newly-signed running back Jerome Messam was pleased that the spotlight was off him and on the quarterbacks.
“It’s better for me,” said Messam, who returned to the Eskimos on Thursday after an unsuccessful tryout with the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins. “I like to fly under the radar.”
Although he declared himself game-ready, Messam will likely share the backfield with fellow running backs Hugh Charles and Cory Boyd.
“I’m ready to go out there and play and help my team,” said Messam, last year’s top Canadian in the CFL. “I’m not sure how many touches I’ll get, but I’m prepared like I’m going to be playing a lot. I definitely want to come out here and have a good performance. It’s good to come back and just get right into the swing of things.”