Pinball praises Hill

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:38 AM ET

HALIFAX -- He's a Hill of a player.

That was the pun delivered by Argos head coach Pinball Clemons yesterday when asked about rookie running back Hakim Hill, who will make his Canadian Football League debut tonight when Toronto plays the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a pre-season game at Huskies Stadium.

The 22-year-old California native has impressed in training camp and tonight is scheduled to receive significant playing time.

Veteran running back John Avery didn't make the trip while nursing an aggravated adductor (groin strain). The injury isn't expected to keep Avery out of the final pre-season game this Friday in Hamilton. But the Argos planned to give Hill quality playing anyway.

"My job right now is to step up and play to the best of my abilities when John is not available," Hill said. "I'm still learning the game of the CFL. I'm not going to lie and say that I'm not. I have some great veterans that are teaching me. I think for two weeks of work I'm doing decent right now. I hope to improve."

Argo player-personnel director Greg Mohns said the big test for Hill will be how he performs in a game situation.

"The tempo of the game picks up, obviously, and that's the thing he's going to be a little surprised with," Mohns said. "He's going to find little things that will be different, but we're anxious to see how he reacts to those situations."

TICAT QUARTERBACKS

The Ticats will dress four quarterbacks and the focus will be on backup Marcus Brady, who was acquired last year after the pre-season in the deal that brought offensive lineman Mike Mihelic to Toronto. So far, he hasn't done enough in practice to unseat Danny McManus as the starter.

"We always hope that he will be a great quarterback, but hope is not going to do it," Ticats' head coach Greg Marshall said. "It's important for him to get playing time."

On rookie quarterback John Beutjer, Marshall said: "He's very smart, has a strong arm and it's a matter of getting more confident with the offence and not holding the ball (too long)."

INJURY WOES

Second-year Argo offensive lineman Dave Costa didn't make the trip because he had his knee scoped. Rookie offensive lineman Damian Lavergne had a cyst removed from his leg and also stayed behind.

UPON REVIEW

The league will test market an instant replay system tonight in which the head coaches can challenge calls. TSN, which is broadcasting the game, has extra cameras in use to help provide more angles.


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