Argos hurting all over

Toronto Argos running back John Williams carries the ball after getting it from quarterback Eric...

Toronto Argos running back John Williams carries the ball after getting it from quarterback Eric Crouch during a drill yesterday. Injuries to three other running backs have made Williams a starter. (Toronto Sun/Alex Urosevic)

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

The plight of the Argos has reached the critical stage.

Seldom, if ever, has a team been as devastated by injury as the Argos, who take their rag-tag roster into Montreal for a game tomorrow against the unbeaten Alouettes.

The team's injury situation is so bad the Argos may have to go with a starting backfield of John Williams and Bryan Crawford, an unlikely tandem, but one borne of necessity in the wake of crushing injuries.

It also looks as though Spergon Wynn will be back under centre in place of Damon Allen, whose return from a broken finger last week resulted in three interceptions and a 28-8 home loss to the B.C. Lions.

Running back John Avery's fickle hamstring hasn't allowed him to practise at full strength and the Argos are taking no chances.

Avery, of course, was thought to be the replacement for an injured Ricky Williams (broken arm), but the elusive Avery suffered a small tear in his hamstring in practice last week and the discomfort won't go away.

In addition, Jeff Johnson did not practise yesterday and is not expected to play tomorrow because of an undisclosed injury. All the Argos would say is that Johnson is sore.

As of yesterday, the Argos had 41 healthy bodies on their roster. CFL teams are allowed to dress 42 and the beleaguered Boatmen desperately were making travel plans for an unnamed Roughriders practice-roster player to fly from Regina to Montreal in time for the Argos' walk-through.

In a nutshell, the Argos are a mess and at 2-4 are in serious jeopardy of falling to 2-5 after their game tomorrow.

The Montreal game begins a six-game stretch in which the Argos play only Eastern foes, including three against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Given the separation in the East Division standings, with the Als and the emerging Winnipeg Blue Bombers proving they are for real, realistically all the Argos can hope for is to finish ahead of the Ticats in the standings and to be healthy.

"If we win two of three against Hamilton, we have a good chance of making the playoffs," Argos head coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons said. "We win all three and we have a great chance.

"Does that mean we're looking past this game? No."

The Argos haven't officially thrown in the towel, but the odds of beating the Als are as long as the team's injury report. On paper, anyway, the Argos head into Montreal completely overmatched.

At last count, 26 players on the team's 46-man roster have missed at least one game this season.

Players, in retrospect, have returned prematurely, while others have managed to play through their ailments.

Tony Miles, who led the Argos in receiving last season, has been cleared to play after tearing his hamstring in the first quarter against B.C. on June 30.

"My mind says not to run too fast, but once that whistle blows I'm all out," Miles said. "We've been struggling enough. We don't need guys going 40%.

"If I can't go, I have to tell people I can't go. Right now, I feel very good."

Miles' expected return at least gives the Argos a morale boost.

Miles also is a very talented playmaker.

"Bringing a guy back into the lineup around here is a celebration," Clemons said.


Videos

Photos