A whole new game

Argos receiver Andre Rison (right) shows his teammates how its done at practice at U of T's...

Argos receiver Andre Rison (right) shows his teammates how its done at practice at U of T's Erindale Campus in Mississauga, Ont., Tuesday, May 31, 2005. (Toronto Sun/Ernest Doroszuk)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

At first, Riall Johnson was a walking penalty flag at Argos training camp.

"The first day (of camp) I was lining up at the line of scrimmage and the lineman was telling me to back up and I was like 'no'," the ex-NFLer said with a smile yesterday.

Three days into camp, the native of White Rock, B.C., is getting the hang of backing up a yard at the line. While Johnson can't expect to make the complete adjustment overnight, he figures to be a key ratio buster for the Argos.

After playing mostly special teams from 2001-2003 with the Cincinnati Bengals, Johnson was signed as a free agent by the Arizona Cardinals last year, only to be among the final cuts Aug. 31.

The Argos, meanwhile, snapped up Johnson in the CFL supplemental draft last year. With no good NFL offers on the table this year, Johnson signed with the Argos and he isn't regretting that decision one bit.

"Being here is helping me get (the NFL) out of my system," said the 6-foot-3, 260-pound Johnson, 27, who moved to Lynwood, Wash., as a five-year-old. "At first I was disappointed. But to be able to have this as an alternative, I'm blessed."

Once he gets used to CFL rules, lining up at defensive end should help Johnson. At Stanford, he led the Pac-10 in sacks in 1999 and 2000.

"It (the yard between the lines) was kind of weird at first," said Johnson, whose brother Teyo is a tight end for the Oakland Raiders. "It messed up my steps on the pass rush. I was doing spin moves a yard early and going right into the lineman the first day, but you have to learn how to use it to your advantage.

"I think I've already adjusted."

With the wider field and the new rules, Argos coach Pinball Clemons feels Johnson needs to work himself into better shape to become most effective.

"I think he's Rially good," Clemons quipped.

"He doesn't think so, but he needs to get in better shape. I don't think he understands the pace of this game. Regardless of what you tell guys, it's not until you get into that first game that they understand the pace is different."

BRIEFLY

Receiver Robert Baker has signed a contract extension ... Wide receivers Arland Bruce III (hamstring) and Petie Scarborough (Achilles) and running back Derek Medler (hamstring) missed practice yesterday morning.


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