On-Field Patience Paying off Huge for Argos Running Back James Wilder Jr

By Ralph, Dan | The Canadian Press, September 28, 2017 | Go to article overview

On-Field Patience Paying off Huge for Argos Running Back James Wilder Jr


Ralph, Dan, The Canadian Press


Wilder chasing third straight 100-yard game

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TORONTO - The man whose job James Wilder Jr. took is playing a big role in helping first-year Argonaut keep his spot as Toronto's feature running back.

Wilder has recorded consecutive 100-yard rushing games, running for 331 yards over that span. He feels a big reason for his success is having learned to let plays develop in front of him first before reacting.

And he credits veteran Brandon Whitaker, Toronto's former starting running back, with teaching him that valuable lesson.

"I wasn't running patient and he's the one who taught me this patience thing," Wilder said following Thursday's practice. "He's the one who's helping me mentally, he's been helping me physically, he's been helping me even in the treatment room.

"I don't let his advice go through one ear and out the other because he's been in this league, he's done it all and been successful. That's something I want to take from him and put on the field."

All too often running backs are taught to hit an open hole immediately before it closes. But the patient runner is one who waits a split second for blocking help, then reacts accordingly.

"Instead of just hitting the hole at full speed, you can press right behind the guard and let him get up to his linebacker then react accordingly," Wilder said. "The hole could be there and you try to hit it at full speed but then it's not there because you didn't wait for the guard to make the block."

Whitaker, in his ninth CFL season, has run for 5,339 career yards on 1,008 carries (solid 5.3-yard average) with 20 TDs. The five-foot-10, 200-pound Whitaker is also an accomplished blocker and has registered 355 career catches for 2,868 yards with 20 touchdowns.

And he helped the Montreal Alouettes -- then led by current Argos head coach Marc Trestman -- earn consecutive Grey Cup titles in 2009 and 2010.

Whitaker ran for 318 yards (4.5-yard average) and had 27 catches for 220 yards in eight games this season. But the 32-year-old hadn't found the endzone.

The six-foot-two, 232-pound Wilder has become a home-run threat for Toronto. He's averaging a whopping 15.8 yards per carry over the last two games with TD runs of 76 and 85 yards in being named a CFL top performer the last two weeks.

"We started the season with Brandon, somebody we could rely on protection-wise and to be a solid football player and then we just did an evaluation," Trestman said. …

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