Only pride on the line

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

It will be the Montreal Alouettes against the Toronto Replacements, er Argos, tonight at the SkyDome.

Because they've already clinched a playoff spot and some of their players are nursing injuries following a slate of three games in 10 days, the Argos will sit out many of their starters for their regular-season finale.

The Als are expected to play many of their starters as their final tuneup for the Eastern final, Nov. 14 at the Big Owe.

The principal Argos scratches include: Punter/kicker Noel Prefontaine; receivers Arland Bruce, Andre Rison and R. Jay Soward; running back John Avery; offensive lineman Jonathan Landon; safety Orlondo Steinauer; defensive back Kenny Wheaton; and defensive ends Eric England and Jonathon Brown.

Additions include: Kicker/punter Dan Giancola; receivers Jean-Frederic Tremblay and Johnnie Mitchell; defensive end Gabe Robinson; defensive backs Chuck Winters and Hurley Tarver; defensive end Arnold Miller; running back Skip Hicks; and offensive lineman Dave Costa.

"Our team is physically beat up," head coach Pinball Clemons said. "Because of the necessity of trying to get home-field advantage (for the Eastern semi-finals), we played guys a bit more than we would have liked in the last game. The reality is the schedule hasn't obliged us. We're going to have to be a little bit crafty (tonight), but we're still going to try to win the game."

Two of the replacements worth watching are Hicks and Miller. Hicks, who packs 230 pounds on his 6-foot frame, dressed against Winnipeg on Sept. 18, but did not touch the ball as a returner and backup running back. He returned to the U.S. for personal reasons, then came back a couple weeks later. Miller, who joined the team on Sept. 20 and has been biding his team since, will make his debut.

"I wish (the opportunity) could have happened earlier, but it's just a matter of learning the system, getting everything ready, getting comfortable," Hicks said. "I feel I'm there now, so hopefully it will show."

Miller, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 260 pounds, has been physically impressive in practice.

"It's going to be a new experience for me," Miller said. "My biggest deal is going to be that yard off the ball. I'm excited. I'm ready to go. I've learned the system and am ready to roll with it.

"When I first came I was ready to get on the field like right away, but I knew they already had the chemistry intact and they were fighting to get into the playoffs. I came here basically to help them in any kind of way. I'm excited to get this opportunity now and make the best of it."

EMOTIONAL STRUGGLE

The team's thoughts are with defensive lineman Chuck Walsh, whose mother Wendy, a fixture at practices, is battling some serious health issues.


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