Stokes' status unsettled

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

Keith Stokes is a playmaker who has yet to master all the plays in the Argos' complex playbook.

Stokes' primary purpose is to accumulate all-purpose yards.

Versatile and extremely explosive, Stokes was reduced to the sidelines following a series of nagging injuries and practised with the first-string offence yesterday for only one of the few times since his arrival in Argoland this year.

In time, the Argos are hoping to showcase the many skills that made Stokes such a coveted free agent this past off-season, but the time may not be now.

As they enter the season opener Saturday against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Argos aren't quite sure how much Stokes will play and how much he will contribute in whatever role they define.

"Rep-wise, I haven't really practised," Stokes said. "Mentally, I'm pretty much prepared with what's going on. I know a couple of the plays."

Stokes can line up in the backfield, at slot, at wideout, return punts, kickoffs and missed field goals.

There's no disputing Stokes' talents. What's in question, at least for now, is precisely how and when to use Stokes.

With so many offensive options, Stokes looms as one of those players capable of wreaking havoc on opposing defences because of his multi-purpose dimension.

On paper, the Argos are capable of shooting the lights out, provided new players such as Stokes and Ricky Williams, once he gets into football shape, are on the same page.

"This offence is one of the more complicated offences I've been a part of," Stokes said. "Because of my past experience as a running back and receiver, I can handle it.

"In this offence, you see the game kind of like a quarterback. You have to read the field and read different coverages a little more than what I was doing before and that makes you a better football player."

Stokes made his Double Blue debut in the team's pre-season opener against the Ticats and missed the exhibition finale against the same Hamilton team.

Coach Pinball Clemons sees the team incorporating Stokes more and more as the season progresses. Like Stokes, Clemons was known for his ability to do everything on the field and holds pro football's career record for all-purpose yards.

In Stokes' four-year CFL career, the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder has recorded close to 10,000 all-purpose yards.

"People talk about his wiggle and ability to make people miss," Clemons said of Stokes. "What I love about him is he doesn't give up on plays. He continues to go. You think he's down and all of a sudden he's running out of a pile.

"He just doesn't quit on a play and he gets everything he can out of every play."


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