Starters getting a break

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

With nowhere to move in the standings, the Argos are preaching caution for their season finale.

At least five Argos starters -- running back John Avery, defensive ends Jonathon Brown and Eric England, safety Orlondo Steinauer and kicker/punter Noel Prefontaine -- will not play tomorrow night against the Montreal Alouettes at the SkyDome.

The Argos have locked up second in the CFL East and will play host to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Nov. 5 in a division semi-final. The winner travels to Montreal to face the first-place Als in the CFL East final Nov. 14.

"If this was a playoff game, almost all of those guys would play," Argos coach Pinball Clemons said. "But based on the fact we've had two short weeks after September and we just finished three games in 11 days, it's important those guys get some rest so we can get them to (full) health."

The Als, on the other hand, are expected to use more of their starters as they have a bye week coming up.

Avery, who has 974 rushing yards this season, turned down an opportunity to try to hit the 1,000-mark, feeling rest is more important at this stage.

"I want a (Grey Cup) ring," said Avery, who underwent left knee surgery last November. "I've rushed for 1,000 yards before. I've rushed for 1,800 before and at some point in my career, I'll rush for 2,000. I don't have a ring, though."

With Avery out, Skip Hicks is expected to play.

Clemons, meanwhile, announced Michael Bishop will start at quarterback, though expected playoff starter Damon Allen also will play.

"For (Bishop) to be a starter puts him in a better mental frame, whereas Damon just needs his work," Clemons said.

CFL NOMINATIONS

Argos linebacker Kevin Eiben, in his first year as a starter, has been rewarded for his fine play.

Eiben was the only CFL player to be nominated for three awards as he received the Argos' nomination for the outstanding player, Canadian and defensive trophies.

"You've got to start somewhere and my way of getting on defence is through special teams," Eiben, 25, said. "I worked hard on special teams and took great pride in it and it's got me to where I am today."

Other Argos nominees are centre Chad Folk (lineman), guard Jonathan Landon (rookie) and Prefontaine (special teams).

The winners will be announced Nov. 18 in Ottawa.


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