Als not taking Argos lightly

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

MONTREAL - After winning only three games last season, few people predicted that the Toronto Argonauts would find themselves on an even playing field with the Montreal Alouettes a month into this season.

On Thursday, the two teams will battle it out for top spot in the CFL's eastern division.

Much of Toronto's turnaround can be attributed to the arrival of several new players and coach Jim Baker, and the team now commands respect on the field.

"It is a team that is progressing," said Montreal quarterback Anothony Calvillo on Wednesday. "It is not the same as it was before. They are playing with confidence and they have an excellent coach. It will be a good battle."

The improvement of the team is most obvious on offense, where the Argonauts now boast a string of talented players such as running-back Cory Boyd.

"We can't just be happy with being near him," said Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman. "We have to be at the right spot at the right time to stop him. He is one of those players that can make a difference in this league."

Trestman is very aware of the damage Boyd can inflict. Boyd currently leads the CFL in yards gained, with 431 through his team's first four games.

The best way to contain Boyd will be to force Toronto quarterback Cleo Lemon into throwing the ball, said linebacker Shea Emry.

"It will be important to neutralize their running game and force them to be one-dimensional," he said.

This strategy could pay off, as Toronto has been limited to 791 passing yards so far this year, 421 yards less than the Alouettes.

Montreal, however, said they respect Lemon's throwing arm, as well as his team of receivers led by Jermaine Copeland, the only legitimate star receiver on the team.

"We said the same thing about Saskatchewan a few years ago," said Montreal defensive end John Bowman. "The Roughriders didn't have one big name and no one to gain 1,000 yards per year."

Bowman said he expects a tough game against an offensive line that plays hard and "doesn't give up until they hear the whistle".

Both teams will be looking to extend their respective four-game winning streaks when they meet on Thursday.


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