The big targets

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Just call them The Millennium Men.

In today's East Division final at the Rogers Centre, the Montreal Alouettes and the Toronto Argonauts will field seven players who have totalled more than 1,000 receiving yards apiece this year.

The Als' Fab Four are Kerry Watkins, Terry Vaughn, Ben Cahoon and Dave Stala.

The Argos' Terrific Trio are Tony Miles, Arland Bruce and Robert Baker.

Put the seven players together and you can expect them to lasso the leather launched by their respective quarterbacks, Anthony Calvillo and Damon Allen, each of whom threw for in excess of 5,000 yards this season.

The Als' four 1,000-yard receivers duplicated a team feat recorded last year for the first time in Canadian Football League history. They did it with Cahoon, Thyron Anderson, Kwame Cavil and Jeremaine Copeland.

The unit broke up because of a variety of reasons. Copeland signed with the Calgary Stampeders as a free agent and Anderson exercised the option clause in his contract to sign with the National Football League's New Orleans Saints. Watkins stepped up into a full-time role as a wideout after playing in only four games last year, mainly as a punt/kick returner. Dave Stala, who had a combined 22 catches in his first two seasons, became a full-time starter at another wideout spot. Terry Vaughn, an accomplished slotback in the West Division, came over from Edmonton in a trade. And the collective unit underwent more changes when the Als traded Cavil to Edmonton for defensive lineman Clinton Wayne in late July. And shortly thereafter, Cahoon suffered an arm/elbow injury and missed four games, moving Stala into his slotback spot. Anderson returned from the New Orleans Saints halfway into the CFL season and has gradually worked his way back into a starter's role.

The accomplishment of the three 1,000-yard Argo receivers duplicated a feat that happened only once before in team history, back in 1997 with Pinball Clemons, Derrell (Mookie) Mitchell and Paul Masotti.

ROBERT BAKER, SLOTBACK

4 TD catches, 1,065 yards, 70 catches

Considered the most physical receiver in the league and arguably the toughest player overall. He is as nasty as they come. It often takes two or three players to drag him down after he makes a catch. Baker absolutely levelled a Calgary player this year during an interception return with a devastating hit that turned around the game from an emotional point of view. His blocking ability makes him effective inside. The only downside to his game is his temper, which sometimes he loses. It's apparent opposing players try to exploit that, but he's becoming better at learning to play with more controlled violence.

BEN CAHOON, SLOTBACK

9 TD catches, 1,067 yards, 73 catches

He is listed at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds but Cahoon plays with the heart and grit of someone much bigger. He is arguably the toughest pound-for-pound player in the league: Fearless in traffic, particularly going across the middle.

A product of Brigham Young, Cahoon was born in Utah but spent the early part of his life growing up in Alberta and is classified as a non-import in the CFL. The Als selected him sixth overall in the 1998 draft and he has become a standout receiver.

He has been named the CFL's Most Outstanding Canadian in 2002 and 2003 and has been an East Division all-star consistently since the 2002 season and twice has been voted an All-Canadian.

TERRY VAUGHN, SLOTBACK

8 TD catches, 1,183 yards, 93 catches

From the time he came into the CFL in 1995 with the Calgary Stampeders, Vaughn developed a pattern of consistently finishing each season with at least 1,000-yard receiving seasons. He did it this year for the 11th consecutive time -- a feat that likely never will be duplicated.

The fact he has done it now with three teams -- Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal -- speaks volumes about his athleticism and consistency. His greatest attribute is the yards he accumulates after the catch. He has really started to find his groove after adjusting to a new team. The diminutive 33-year-old is a lock to be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame at the end of his career.

ARLAND BRUCE, SLOTBACK

11 TD catches, 1,205 yards, 67 catches

Arguably the best pure receiver in the league, Bruce possesses outstanding leaping ability and runs great routes. He can turn on a dime with sudden acceleration, and can also flat out run.

In summation, he is the total package. The kind of player who can single-handedly break open a game.

Bruce came to the Argos last year following a season and a half with the San Francisco 49ers as principally a return specialist, preceded by two seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Besides catching passes, Bruce is dangerous as a punt returner when called upon.

KERRY WATKINS, WIDEOUT

9 TD catches, 1,364 yards, 97 catches

The 5-foot-11, 186-pound product of Georgia Tech spent much of the 2004 season on the Als' practice roster. In the four games that he played, he showed little as a receiver. But the Als are recognized as one of the best recruiting teams in the CFL, headed by general manager Jim Popp. He obviously saw something in Watkins, who has speed and is known to run good routes.

Although the Als are known to move their receivers around to different spots, Watkins is generally lined up as the shortside wideout and is considered the deep threat of Montreal's receiving corps.

TONY MILES, WIDEOUT

8 TD catches, 1,275 yards, 91 catches

Acquired from Hamilton in a trade in 2003, Miles has developed into one of the best young receivers in the CFL. He has alternately played as a wideout and a slotback, but seems to be more comfortable starting outside. His speed and shiftiness make him particularly effective after the catch, particularly in open space, and he is extremely tough to defend man to man. It is not unusual for the Argos to line up four receivers to one side and line him by himself on the opposite side to create a one-one-one matchup.

His best attribute may be his unselfishness as he rarely makes any noise about wanting the ball. Miles is also capable of doing some dangerous things as a returner.

DAVE STALA, SLOTBACK

5 TD catches, 1,037 yards, 83 catches

One of the few players, and possibly the only one, in the CFL to be born in Poland, although Hamilton is his hometown.

Stala joined the Als in 2003 as a draft pick out of Saint Mary's, in which he excelled as a receiver and punter/kicker. After two seasons apprenticing as a receiver and occasional punter, Stala beat out Sylvain Girard for the starting wideside wideout role. Stala then moved over to slotback for a few games when Cahoon suffered an injury. Stala made an excellent athletic play in the East semi-final, catching the ball and then flipping it off to Cahoon for extra yardage. Although he developed a turf toe injury in that game, Stala is slated to play.


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