Crouch takes centre stage

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:09 AM ET

The future has arrived early for Eric Crouch.

By necessity, the Argos were forced to thrust Crouch into football's limelight during Saturday's game in Regina where the team ended a three-game losing streak by beating the hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders 26-23 in a CFL classic.

With incumbent Damon Allen nursing a broken finger and backup Spergon Wynn rushed to hospital at halftime following a devastating hit to his head, Crouch was asked to manage the Argos offence and make plays.

Perhaps no bigger play to the Argos' early season was produced when Crouch hooked up with receiver Arland Bruce III. The 94-yard completion led to a Jeff Johnson touchdown run.

The Argos would survive two late Saskatchewan touchdowns, two on-side kicks and a failed two-point convert to improve to 2-3 heading into Saturday's home game against the B.C. Lions.

"I'm far from the player I want to be," Crouch said. "I'm getting closer every day."

Officially, Crouch made his CFL debut on a third-and-short gamble in the first half, but he made the biggest impression in the wake of Wynn's injury.

Following the game, Wynn spoke volumes about Crouch.

"That's why football is such the ultimate team game," Wynn said. "There's going to be injuries -- it's inevitable. Guys have to be prepared to step up."

Ricky Williams broke his left forearm in the first half and will be out indefinitely. The Argos and Miami Dolphins consulted yesterday and the running back was to have surgery today.

Despite speculation that Williams never will play again as an Argo, the club is hopeful its starting running back will be back for the Labour Day clash in Hamilton. John Avery is expected to re-assume his starting tailback duties.

The Argos will spend the next couple of days monitoring Wynn and seeing if there are any lingering effects from the crushing blow delivered by Scott Schultz.

Saturday's remarkable day began with news the Argos tried to entice Doug Flutie out of retirement.

"I can't worry about that," Allen said of the team's courtship of Flutie. Allen says he expects to practise at full speed when the Argos return to business today.

Head coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons says the team will not rush Allen back and can't say who will line up under centre against the Lions.

It was first speculated Allen would be back at full health for the Aug. 3 game against the Alouettes in Montreal.

Crouch, meanwhile, can conceivably start this week.

"Eric showed such great poise," Clemons said. "He managed the offence, he used the clock. He wasn't necessarily accurate with his throws, but he threw safely."

The challenge for Crouch is completing the intermediate throw. His deep ball has never been questioned and it was evident when he hooked up with Bruce in a defining moment that may have saved the Argos' season.


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