Talbot and Palmer both positive

JOSH WEBSTER -- SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 6:01 PM ET

They won't be confused with the 1994 Calgary Stampeders, but this year's version of the Toronto Argonauts are beginning to get their swagger back on offence.

After scoring just two offensive touchdowns in their first three games, the Argos' offence have reached the end zone seven times during their current three game win streak. Helping to put points on the scoreboard is a pair of Canadian wide receivers.

Both Andre Talbot and Michael Palmer are having career seasons. This may not be a surprise in the case of Palmer, given this is only his second season in professional football. But for Talbot, it is a long time coming.

Entering the 2004 season, Talbot had only 257 receiving yards to his credit, and no touchdowns in 28 games played. Used exclusively on special teams in his rookie season, and injured for most of his third season, Talbot hasn't been able to gain much experience at the wideout position.

But this year he is getting his touches, none better than one particular play on the turf at Ivor Wynne Stadium against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, when he caught a 25-yard pass from Damon Allen for his first CFL touchdown.

Proving that was no fluke, Talbot scored again in his last game at SkyDome against the Ottawa Renegades. With Allen scrambling for his life, he was able to find Talbot in the clear. The Oshawa, ON native ran to the end zone untouched to complete a 39-yard play.

"It's been a long haul for me to get to this point, (to) somewhat establish myself," admitted Talbot. "It's just good to contribute to help the team get wins and do what we need to do to get to the Grey Cup and bring it back to Toronto."

Talbot's success almost didn't happen, as he was plagued with hamstring problems for most of the 2003 season. After only playing in four games the entire year, he gave serious thought to quitting the game all together.

Clearly for Talbot, it was a frustrating time

"Words can't describe it, let me tell you," reflected Talbot. "I was contemplating not pursuing football anymore, and after last year, sort of just the things I went through. But I got healthy and just decided to come out with a new positive outlook and take it for what it is and give it another shot. So that's what I did. Positive things happen to positive thinkers, so that's what I did."

Unfortunately the injury bug that bit Talbot last season has moved on to Palmer. After playing with what he thought was a tendon injury in his right leg, a bone scan showed that Palmer has in fact a stress fracture, something the doctors believe happened in his university days. As a result, Palmer will be sidelined for two-to-four weeks.

This is a minor setback for Palmer, coming off a game where he scored his first CFL touchdown against the Renegades.

"That was great. No feeling like it in the world," said Palmer. "To look up in the crowd and everyone is just cheering, looking at you, there is no feeling like that."

Palmer has turned heads ever since he arrived at Argos' training camp in 2003. With a year of eligibility left at the University of Guelph, Palmer impressed his coaches enough to earn a spot on special teams.

Paul Masotti, the Argos' leader in reception yardage, was the team's receiver coach at the time. He compared Palmer to a veteran, praising how quick he was in adapting to the Argos' offensive system.

Palmer continued to impress this pre-season, which earned him playing time at the wideout position. He credits his love for the game for the reason he has progressed so quickly at the pro level.

"I think just because of my desire and passion for it," explained Palmer. "I love playing football. It's the (greatest) thing in the world to catch balls all day and get paid for it. I remember when I was a kid my father used to throw me balls and it was so much fun. And now I get to practice and do it."

"I think I've improved just because of my attention to detail. I have a passion for the game. I want to improve. I want to be the best receiver in the league. That's the bottom-line goal for me. That's what fuels me. That's what keeps me going."

* * *

Ironically, both Talbot and Palmer crossed paths well before both players wore the double blue. In 2000 Talbot, a standout receiver at Wilfrid Laurier University, and Palmer, then a young receiver with the University of Guelph, both witnessed history when Talbot set an all-time CIAU record for most receptions in a game. Talbot made 19 receptions for 289 receiving yards and two touchdowns in Laurier's 29-17 win over Guelph.

Talbot left his mark at WLU as the school's all-time leader in single season receptions with 54. He is second in single season receiving yards with 890 and in single season receiving touchdowns with 11, marks he set in 2000. He is also second in career receptions with 122 and in career receiving touchdowns with 24. He was also an all-Canadian in 1999 and 2000.

"It was awesome," reflected Talbot. "That was a program that fit me perfectly. It was a smaller type school but very football orientated. All the students within the community loved it and in that city they really pushed football so it was great to be part of that."

"I fit into the system well. My first year I went in there and was able to be part of the offence and catch some balls and do some other things. I worked into it and the coaches liked me so they were able to really use my potential and use me as one of the feature receivers so it was awesome."

Palmer was also a key component in Guelph's arsenal during his time with the program, being named an OUA first team all-star twice.

"It's just a great place to play football," praised Palmer.

The Burlington, ON native admitted that seeing Talbot get drafted by the Argos gave him some added motivation to make it to the CFL some day. Little did he know he would be drafted by the same team.

"That was a bit of an inspiration for me too. I seen him get to the league, so I said 'Hey man, I can do that too.' And here we are."

Considering the fact that both players are Canadians fighting for the same position, and with CFL non-import quotas, they couldn't be blamed for having a bit of a rivalry against each other. If there is one, both players downplay it.

"There was a competition between us but it's more of a competition on the field," explained Palmer. "It's really us against the defence and whoever does better against the defence would have got the starting spot. The competition wasn't between us personally per se, but it was for the position. But when I approached him, when I came into training camp, I knew it was going to be like that. I talked to my family a lot about it and I just started to be positive no matter what."

"And now look what happened. Now both of us are starting. I think it is that way because both of us decided to just be positive and to support each other all the way through it. Now we have a nice little duo going on and it's a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun to be a part of it."

"I found with Canadian receivers there's more of a bond and there's more of a push to help each other and motivate each other," added Talbot. "When he does well I'm happy for him because I know exactly what he is going through, I know exactly where he is coming from what he is fighting for and so when he scored his touchdown I was right there giving him a high five and what not. I was happy for him and I know when I do well, he is happy for me."

"We're both coming from the same worlds and fighting for the same thing so we push each other to be better and to have two non-import spots. That's what we've had the last few weeks. The better the Canadians play, the more the team relies on them. I want the team to rely on me, and rely on Michael Palmer, and rely on our Canadians, because it's our game."

Spoken like a true Canadian.


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