Where’s Jerome Messam?
That was one of the many questions on people’s lips after the Roughriders lost 23-17 to the Montreal Alouettes on Saturday.
The Roughriders’ running back was hardly used at all in Saturday’s loss despite a struggling run game that saw just 60 yards rushing – only 35 of which came from the running backs.
“It’s very frustrating. I’m not used to this situation,” Messam admitted. “I’ve been playing a lot for the past few years of my career and I want to continue doing that.”
The Riders acquired Messam in free agency in February after the Stampeders encouraged the running back to look at other options.
The 33-year-old was coming off of back-to-back 1000-yard seasons when he inked the deal, but throughout training camp head coach Chris Jones warned that the running back may be on a “pitch count” to keep him in top shape.
That pitch count seems to be continuing into the regular season.
“We used (Messam) the first couple of weeks. He’s 33 years old,” Jones offered in way of explanation. “My job is to make sure that we got our best team every week and not just one week. We got to make sure we’re smart with his reps.”
But Messam insists he’s not fatigued “at all.”
Complicating matters perhaps is a crowded backfield that includes Marcus Thigpen – who was a standout tailback for the Riders in the postseason – and former NFLer Tre Mason.
Their play hasn’t exactly inspired confidence in Rider Nation who were calling for Messam during the Green Zone post-game show on Saturday.
“It makes me feel good that the Rider Nation believes in me,” Messam said, cracking a small smile. “I just hope the coaches believe in me as well.”
And it’s positivity that Messam is clinging to right now as he waits to see how many reps he’ll get this week.
He’s confident that the team can get the run game going and believes it’s more necessary now than ever with Brandon Bridge and David Watford behind centre.
“I’m here to play football, they know what I can do, they know I’m here when they need me,” Messam said.
“I obviously want to go out there and contribute, I feel like I’ve had my hand whether it’s a win or a loss, but like I said, I’m here for my team … I’m just going to continue to cheer on the guys that are playing and be positive.”