Irregular season

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

When Kenny Wheaton took his first look at his first CFL schedule a couple of years back, the Argonaut thought it was a joke.

His coach, Michael Clemons, has a similar feeling about this year's version, calling his team's calendar "the worst in the league by far."

It's reality of life in the CFL, however, that teams must find ways to adapt to the short weeks which can disrupt a team's routine dramatically. To help get around the latest hiccup, the Argos will fly to Vancouver tomorrow night in advance of their game against the B.C. Lions on Friday.

A year ago, the Argos went West the day before their meeting with B.C. and were promptly thumped 31-10, the worst defeat of the season other than the finale against the Montreal Alouettes, in which Clemons rested many of his starters.

LEG WEARY

"We were certainly leg weary," Clemons said yesterday, referring to the B.C. game. "Only a fool does the same thing time and time again expecting different results.

"With that, we want to be a little smarter. Going out a day earlier, we hope will be part of us being a little fresher and adjusting to the time change."

Clemons does a study of all the team's schedules, factoring in extreme layoffs as well as compressed weeks. Under the coach's system, the Argos have the worst of it in 2005.

The six days of rest between the most recent game -- a come-from-behind win over Saskatchewan on Saturday -- and the B.C. game is mild compared to what awaits.

After the B.C. game, for example, the Argos are in action on Thurs. July 28 when they play in Montreal. That game is followed by an afternoon home game against Winnipeg the following Monday, allowing barely a day of practice.

It was stretches like those that Wheaton couldn't believe. During his college career at Oregon and in parts of three seasons in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys, the defensive back had become accustomed to the regimen of U.S. football.

"When I first got here, I looked at the schedule and said: 'Wow, I won't be able to do this. So many games in this amount of time, that's crazy,' " Wheaton said yesterday prior to the team's practice in Mississauga.

"It's totally different. But that's the CFL and the biggest thing is taking care of your body first. It's the only way you can do it. It shows how players in this league are warriors."

Wide receiver R.J. Soward, who spent 2000 with the Jacksonville Jaguars then didn't play football until joining the Argos last season, saw the same thing as Wheaton.

"It's not scripted," Soward said. "I don't want to say it's unorganized, but there's not much time. Everything gets condensed. Last year it was very hard for me because I really didn't know what was going on and I didn't know what to expect. But I'm used to it now."


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