They're formidable foes

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

Mike Mihelic will line up at his customary spot at right guard, assume his three-point stance and glance at a recognizable face on the opposing line of scrimmage.

What the veteran will see is a former collegiate teammate who will be out to knock Mihelic on his backside, disrupt the Argos' blocking schemes and attempt to make a bee-line for quarterback Damon Allen.

It's all, of course, in a day's work for the workmanlike Mihelic, who revels in those rare moments when the competition involves a formidable, yet familiar foe.

On Saturday, Mihelic's one-on-one assignment is to block Saskatchewan Roughriders' Nate Davis, whom Mihelic describes as an athletic pass rusher who leaves everything out on the field.

What makes this game within the game intriguing is that Mihelic and Davis were freshman teammates at the University of Indiana in 1993.

While their careers have taken different paths, Mihelic has kept in contact with Davis, recalling their Hoosier days and catching up on the latest CFL musings.

"This week we're not talking to each other," the 6-foot-5, 317-pound Mihelic said yesterday. "Nate is built like me, is competitive like me, but is far more athletic.

"He's a great defensive tackle and there's so much mutual respect. The beauty of the CFL is that you can brawl for 60 minutes and at the end of the game you can have a beer together. It's going to be a challenge."

Mihelic is in his ninth year and second as an Argo, but only now feels truly comfortable in his lot.

When he was acquired last season from Hamilton, Mihelic went through a stretch of injuries and inconsistent playing time. What made all the personal and professional setbacks rewarding was the team's Grey Cup championship.

"I feel like the slate is clean," the Toronto native said. "The focus is on playing and I think we've been playing well two games into the season."

While most of the Argos' Grey Cup title team remains intact, the right side of the O-line has undergone a change in the form of Mihelic and tackle Jerome Davis.

Mihelic and Jerome Davis, despite not playing together in training camp, have forged a strong bond and provide the Argos with a much-needed edge and attitude.

"It's just a matter of being consistent and we're getting there," Mihelic said. "We had some miscommunication against Calgary, but we've ironed those things out.

"Offensively, we need a little more production. We got to run the ball and put points on the board."

BONNER IS BACK

Linebacker Antonious Bonner will play on Saturday after missing Friday's game in Calgary with a muscle strain in his back.

"I'm ready to go," the fiery Bonner proclaimed. "I watched that game on TV and I was nervous. Then I got mad when Calgary had a chance at the end. I needed a week for the muscle to heal and the swelling to go down."


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