Armstead's playing time will be reduced

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- The Renegades are set to battle the best in the West with their most dangerous weapon only half-cocked.

Deep threat/return specialist Jason Armstead, who missed all week of practice mourning the death of a loved one, will play about 50% of the offensive snaps and have help from Frank Cutolo with his special teams duties in tonight's game against the B.C. Lions, coach Joe Paopao said.

Armstead, who scored the team's only two touchdowns in a season-opening loss to Edmonton and had two more in the pre-season, spent the week at home in Mississippi grieving the death of a close uncle. Travel complications due to a tropical storm delayed his return, but Armstead was expected to rejoin the Renegades yesterday in Vancouver.

"How's that going to affect his play? I don't know," Paopao said of Armstead's layoff. "He told me, 'I just need to play, coach.'

"We faxed him our game plan and (quarterbacks and receivers coach) Tommy (Condell) already talked to him about what his role will be ... we'll take whatever he can give us. I'm sure he's anxious to get out there and run around, relieve some anxiety.

"Right now, he'll play about 50%, but we're going to monitor him closely to see where he's at."

Subbing for Armstead at his wide out spot will be Markus Howell, who has impressed Paopao since hauling in the first long bomb of training camp during the black-white game.

"We had a good week (of practice) with Markus, he'll play quite a lot," said Paopao. "We're really happy with his development."

EXTRA POINTS: The new FieldTurf at B.C. Place is the same stuff used at the Big O in Montreal for the Expos' final season. The Lions reportedly paid just $1 million for the modernized turf, which was transported across the country on about 17 flatbed trucks ... While Condell is now calling the majority of offensive plays for the Renegades, Paopao says the game plan has selections for each situation, minimizing Condell's choices ... Discarded by the Lions during training camp, Cutolo claimed to feel no added motivation for tonight's game. "Honestly, I don't know what it will be like when I come out here in pads (tonight), I might have a different feeling" he told reporters after Ottawa's walk-through at B.C. Place. "But right now, I just think (being cut) is part of the business and you have to roll with the punches." ... The Lions have sold 45,000 tickets for this November's Grey Cup Game and expect to move the remaining 13,000 or so by Labour Day ... Lions defensive co-ordinator Dave Ritchie has lost 45 lbs. since heart surgery Sept. 8 ... Renegades president Lonie Glieberman has made the trip west with the team, but his father Bernie will not be at tonight's game.


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