Argos feel squeeze

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

The gauntlet has been thrown down by the Montreal Alouettes. Now it's up to the Argos to respond.

The two teams are tied for first place in the East Division following the Als' 38-34 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday. But the Argos can move two points ahead by beating the Edmonton Eskimos today at the Rogers Centre.

"You expect your competitors to win. You take care of your own business," Argos head coach Pinball Clemons said yesterday. "You don't want to back in the playoffs and not play well. If you can't beat the better teams this time of the year then you're not going to go deep in the playoffs.

"We want to go out and play the best football game we've played all year long (today). We want to have a great, energetic organized effort that resembles the kind of effort that is necessary to be successful this time of the year."

The two teams played in Edmonton on Aug. 20 and the Argos won 22-18.

The Roughriders' loss gave the Eskimos a chance to take sole possession of second in the West. Both teams are tied with 16 points, but the Eskimos have a game in hand.

The big question going into today's game is how much will the Eskimos commit to a running game with the addition of tailback Troy Davis, acquired in a trade from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats earlier in the week. Davis totalled 108 yards on the ground in his last game with the Ticats, coincidentally against the Eskimos. The Eskimos have the league's fourth-best passing attack in terms of efficiency -- Ricky Ray leads all quarterbacks with 4,600 yards, but has thrown an increasing number of interceptions -- but an ineffective ground game. Even though Davis only has had a few practices with his new team, he has had previous success against the Argos.

"Their modus operandi is to throw the ball deep. They're not going to abandon that," Argos safety Orlondo Steinauer said. "Even in their losses they still tried to throw the ball deep. That's going to happen, but if they can establish the run, that's going to open up (the passing game) a lot more.

"We have changed in that we are ready for them to come out with a double tight-end (set), but we haven't changed our game plan defensively."

OPEN UP GAME

Argos defensive tackle Noah Cantor said the Eskimos have tried to run the ball all year, but added that's not their game plan.

"For them to go ahead and do a turnaround the way they play, I don't think it's going to happen, especially after (only) the first week of Troy being there," Cantor said. "They're going to try and establish that, but they've got all these great pass receivers and I think they're going to try and air it out."

Conversely, the Argos, who have the second-best passing efficiency in the league, are starting to run the ball more in combination with fullback Sean Millington and John Avery.

Physically the Argos defensive line could be put to the test because Riall Johnson, who alternates with ends Jonathan Brown and Eric England, is out with an injury.


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