What's the rush?
Diedrick on his way, but don't expect an instant solution to running problems
By TERRY JONES, EDMONTON SUN
Dahrran Diedrick became the first Canadian scholarship recruit at Nebraska and rushed for 2,745 career yards – eighth in school history. (File photo)
Dahrran Diedrick is within hours of becoming an Edmonton Eskimo. But is he within days of becoming the answer to their running game problem?
It's been a long wait for the Toronto area product to run out of his NFL options, but the running back called Eskimos' GM Paul Jones Tuesday night and it looks like he's decided to finally head home to play in the CFL. He could be in the lineup as soon as a week Sunday in Taylor Field in Regina.
"We've been talking to him a lot. I talked to him Tuesday night,'' said Jones.
"We're going the right direction with it now. Danny Maciocia would like him in as soon as he can, learning the plays and settling in. Hopefully this will be taken care of in the next few days.''
But whoa, says Maciocia.
"We need to be careful here. I know there's going to be a sense of excitement here. I know how difficult it is to get a quality Canadian. I know there will be a sense of excitement from that aspect alone. But I wouldn't want there to be a sense of excitement that Diedrick is going to be the answer to our running game problems.
"That's going from one extreme to the other. I'm not ready to say that.
"He's a quality Canadian, no question about that. He's a good football player. But to see him as the answer to our running game problem, that's not the case. That would be misleading people.''
George Reed in his prime might not be the answer to the Eskimos running game problems right now. The answer to the Eskimos running game problem is likely to get the running backs, such as they are, some big league blocking. But Maciocia certainly isn't going to say that. "Potentially he could be the answer,'' said the head coach. "But I don't want to come across that he is the answer to be, a) fair to myself, and b) to be fair to him.
"What I will say is if you are excited about what Eric Lapointe brings to Montreal and Jesse Lumsden is going to bring to Hamilton, Diedrick is just as good as those two guys, if not better.''
As with the case of Diedrick with the Eskimos, Lumsden is expected to sign with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the same time frame.
"There aren't too many Canadians who get scholarships to go to Nebraska and start at running back for their entire college career,'' added the Eskimos' rookie head coach.
Actually, there's only been one.
Diedrick became the first ever Canadian scholarship recruit at Nebraska and rushed for 2,745 career yards. That was good for eighth in school history.
So far this year, Edmonton is eighth in a nine-team league in rushing and have rotated three different people at the position.
Eskimos' talent recruiter Jones says watching Diedrick has been a priority since the team drafted him in 2002, knowing he'd be headed to the NFL, knowing they wouldn't be seeing him for a while, maybe not ever.
"He's a quality back. He's somebody we've watched all his career.
"He's someone I think can come in and have a chance. When you play college at Nebraska, you run inside a lot. They run the 'I' at Nebraska. Anybody playing running back at Nebraska has to be a tough player. They're a run orientated team.''
SIGNED BY CHARGERS
The six-foot-two, 225-pound Diedrick was originally signed by the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted rookie free agent in May 2003.
He was released three months later and signed on for a stint on the Green Bay Packers practice roster before again being released.
He then joined the Washington Redskins late last year and was added to the active roster for their final NFL regular season game. He also spent a year in NFL Europe.
The guy will almost certainly be signed between now and game time tomorrow and likely in the Eskimos dressing room when they open the door to begin work on their next game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
But, Danny Maciocia warns, while Eskimo fans are allowed to get a little excited, to see him as the solution for the No. 1 thing that ails his football team right now concerns him greatly.
"I wouldn't even want to say if he'd play in Saskatchewan on the 18th.''
Look for similar words from Tiger-Cats head coach Greg Marshall on the subject of Lumsden shortly.