Rush to judgement

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:43 AM ET

The B.C. Lions have the worst rush defence in the CFL, and Joffrey Reynolds has a habit of hitting the 100-yard mark against the West Division foe.

But there is a new wrinkle in the rivalry.

Emotional linebacker JoJuan Armour is now wearing B.C. colours.

Cut by the Stamps for getting rough in practice, Armour expects to give Reynolds and the Calgary offence a rougher ride tonight in his first visit back to McMahon Stadium (8 p.m., TSN).

"I always considered Joffrey one of the best running backs in the league and I've thought that since Hamilton," said Armour, who helped the Stamps win the Grey Cup last season. "I'm just excited to face Calgary's offence, in general. When you hold a team to such high regard, you want to play your best.

"I considered them the best. I said it when I was here and I will say it now. It's our job to punch them in the face and shut them down."

Reynolds was part of the reason the Lions have the worst rush defence stats in the CFL.

In Week 4, the durable running back piled up 131 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-10 drubbing. That prompted the Lions to call Armour, who was sitting at home since getting his release from the Stamps in training camp.

Armour played with the Lions in 2004-05 before spending two years with the Tiger-Cats, and he was brought in to provide a jolt to a listless bunch.

This off-season, the Lions let talkative linebacker Otis Floyd go, and according to head coach Wally Buono, the team missed that push a veteran brings.

"Like most teams, there is one guy who can get the other guys going," Buono said.

"Defence is an emotional, hyped unit. If you don't have that emotional spark, you can still play but not at the same level of intensity. That's been something he's good at doing.

"If that's a thing we lost by losing a guy like Otis, then JoJuan brought that back. It's been an almost totally different unit because of that."

The Stamps rush defence didn't have a great start to the season, but they made changes, as well. Tim Johnson has replaced Tray Blackmon at middle linebacker, while DeVone Claybrooks and Jim Davis have plugged the defensive tackle spot.

Calgary still ranks seventh in that category, allowing 124 yards per game, but the Lions have given up 141 per outing.

With rookie running back Martell Mallett second in the league with 869 yards in 11 games, the Lions boast a strong running attack as well.

But that doesn't compare with what Reynolds (who is fourth in the CFL) has done in his past few meetings with B.C.

In the past five outings Reynolds played the full game against the Lions, he has averaged 111 yards.

None of those meetings were against Armour, although the running back faced him enough last year in practice.

"JoJuan is a solid middle linebacker," Reynolds said.

"They've played pretty sound on defence in recent games.

"I would bet pride had a lot to do with it. After that game (in B.C. on July 24), those guys are feeling like they are playing for their jobs and still are playing for their jobs.

"If you look at the way we beat them last time at their place, they came out and said they took it personally. We expect their best in this game. They will be fired up. I'm not sure how many times we beat them in a row, but we've had success against them.

"I remember being on the other side of that and how hard it is to reverse."

The Stamps have won five straight meetings in the rivalry, including last year's West final, after going 1-8-1 against them in the previous 10 games.

There will be another change that affects the running game for the home side. Centre Rob Lazeo is back after missing five games with a knee injury.

Lazeo has fresh legs from being off, which he said will come in handy tonight.

"I can't wait to pick Joffrey up after some 25-yard carries," Lazeo said. "I will be the fastest offensive lineman you have ever seen getting down there.

"Joff's been great, a great ground-and-pound type of guy. The offensive line has made the holes really well and he's hitting them. The guys have done a great job since I've been out.

"Joff just drops his head and runs people over sometimes and that's a good thing."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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