Argos not who they thought they were

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:29 PM ET

If it's true that adversity brings a team together, then the Argonauts should start winning games with regularity.

Three consecutive losses -- the latest a 21-point embarrassment in Vancouver on Saturday against the B.C. Lions -- have brought a sense of realization around Argoland that the team isn't as good as a 5-2 start might have indicated.

Now, with a home date on Sunday with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers next on the schedule, the Argos could be entering a watershed moment in the regular season. A victory against the Bombers, who snapped a five-game losing streak on Sunday when they beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and the Argos might begin to leave behind the mid-season doldrums; a fourth loss in a row, and a game the following week in the unfamiliar confines of the University of Moncton against the dreary Edmonton Eskimos becomes a bigger challenge than it should be.

"Every good team has to go through this," Argos running back/slotback Andre Durie said. "This is a difficult part of the season, but I think we will come back strong from this."

The Argos should be buoyed in the coming weeks as vital players come back from injuries. Slotback Jeremaine Copeland, acquired in the off-season from the Calgary Stampeders to bring a presence of leadership to the receiving corps, has been practising after recovering from an elbow injury and shouldn't be far off, with an expected return to the lineup no later than Touchdown Atlantic in Moncton; receiver Reggie McNeal also is expected to be in uniform when the Argos suit up in New Brunswick. The pair should bring much-needed stability to the Argos' receiving corps, though James Robinson, if two nice touchdowns against the Lions are any indication, could be the long threat the Boatmen have been seeking for a couple of years.

And offensive lineman Rob Murphy might not miss another game with a left heel injury, as there were implications that he could have played in B.C. had the Argos not had such a short turnaround after losing to Hamilton on Labour Day. The impact of Murphy's absence was fairly clear against the Lions, as a patchwork offensive line got worn down as the game progressed through the second half.

Of course, the Argos' biggest concern is the health of running back Cory Boyd, who suffered a minor concussion in the third quarter against the Lions and did not play another down. The Argos don't practise again until Wednesday, when they make a special appearance at Sir Robert L. Borden Business and Technical Institute, but were monitoring the health of Boyd. It's a touchy area, as Boyd suffered a concussion during training camp.

The Argos can't risk the health of their best player, but at the same time they know the offence is dictated by Boyd. It's not a coincidence that Boyd has been limited in his yardage in each of the three losses. Opponents know that if the Argos' run game is subtracted, the passing attack isn't cohesive enough to carry the offence on its own. But rushing Boyd back would be foolish, and it's not something head coach Jim Barker would do.

Though getting any of the aforementioned players would help, the fact remains that every Argo has to be better. Barker has tried to convince them that undisciplined play gets them nowhere, and he now has obvious proof given the penalty trouble during the three losses.

A .500 record just past the halfway point of the season for a team that won a total of seven games in the previous two years is evidence of improvement. The next step should be putting the adversity toward a common good.

"There's no need to be negative," centre Dominic Picard said. "We have to stay together. That's the most important thing right now."

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca


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