Argos look to right ship

DEAN McNULTY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:21 AM ET

Argos coach Pinball Clemons is of the opinion that Monday's loss to the Edmonton Eskimos may be just what the team needed to get ready to defend its Grey Cup championship.

Clemons also said he wasn't about to start pointing fingers for the 17-13 loss to the Eskimos.

The team fumbled away the ball three times, were penalized five times for 43 yards and still had a chance to win the game late but were clipped for an illegal formation penalty on a play that should have been a touchdown.

"There were lots of mistakes," Clemons said yesterday at the team's University of Toronto Erindale Campus practice field.

"(But) a lot of times I'm more concerned about the team when we are winning than when we are losing," Clemons said. "But based on the effort we have shown I'm not worried about our team.

"Last season we had to lose seven times in to order to win the championship."

But the affable coach said while the mistakes certainly would be addressed in practices this week in preparation for Sunday's game against the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg, he was confident the team could rebound.

"Undoubtedly our goal is to finish first this year," Clemons said.

He said the two-week break the team enjoyed before Monday's game may have hurt.

"We may be better off playing every week," Clemons said. "We just don't do well after these long breaks."

The coach said he doesn't normally like to look ahead at games, but he admitted yesterday he had the Oct. 22 match-up with Montreal circled on his calendar.

The Argos are tied with the Alouettes and have split their previous meetings this season so that game likely will determine who finishes first and gets the bye in the first round of the playoffs.

"It was going to come down to that anyway," Clemons said. "That's what you want."

He said it's more than just the rubber match.

"This game is not only a four-point game in terms of who wins and who loses, it also becomes the tie-breaker if the two teams have an equal record at the end of the season," he said.

Clemons had a new player at practice yesterday, one he hopes can be an important cog in his team's quest to repeat as champions.

Karon Riley suited up in place of Canadian defensive end Riall Johnson, who is day-to-day with a groin injury.

Riley was recruited out of the broadcast booth in Atlanta, where he was hosting a sports talk show on a local television station.

He had spent the previous two seasons with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.

"It has been a long road," Riley said yesterday. "I got hurt last year when I was the starting for the Falcons. They decided not to re-sign me."

Clemons said it is unlikely Riley will start against Winnipeg, but he looks forward to having him give the team needed depth at his position.


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