Starting role is special for Mariuz

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:21 AM ET

Ray Mariuz does not mind being billed as a special teams ace, but he likes having starting linebacker on his resume as well.

The McMaster product will make his third career start -- and his second in a row -- tomorrow night when the Argos meet the Montreal Alouettes at Molson Stadium.

"I've been playing football for so long and it (starting) is what we're paid to do," Mariuz, a third-year player who led the CFL in special teams tackles last season, said. "I was more excited than anything (to start July 15 against the B.C. Lions). I love to be out there and part of the defence, contributing in any way I can."

With linebackers Antonious Bonner, Chuck Winters and Marvin Godbolt all nursing injuries, Mariuz is being asked to start on defence and maintain some of his special teams assignments.

"It would be tough to play all specials and all defence," Mariuz said. "They've got me off one (special teams unit). But it gets easier as the game goes on."

Against the B.C. Lions, the Argos replaced Mariuz with Derrick (Bo) Lewis on many second downs, keeping both players fresh. Mariuz is one of three Canadians starting at linebacker for the Argos -- joining Mike O'Shea and Kevin Eiben for a rare Canuck trio.

"It's pretty neat," Mariuz said. "I don't think it happens very often. I think it's a tribute to our team and our Canadian scouter (Nick Volpe)."

PINBALL LIKES KHARI

Argos coach Pinball Clemons thinks the division rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats signed a solid quarterback in Khari Jones.

"I think Khari Jones is a great veteran and a good signing," Clemons said after the Ticats signed the CFL's most outstanding player from 2001 yesterday. "In terms of my thoughts on that, they make the best decisions for them and I think they picked up a quality guy."


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