Argos grab at straws

Toronto Argos quarterback Damon Allen hoists up a pass during practice yesterday as the club is...

Toronto Argos quarterback Damon Allen hoists up a pass during practice yesterday as the club is forced to go to a group of no-name receivers because its starters are nursing injuries. (Toronto Sun/David Lucas)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

The Argos can't catch a break, so they have to hope some no-name receivers can catch the football.

As a season of misery continues in Argoland, the latest group to be decimated by injuries is the receiving corps. Lined up with the first team at parts of practice yesterday were guys named David Azzi, Shockmain Davis, Christian Heffernan and Ian Forde.

Milt Stegall, Terry Vaughn and Geroy Simon they are not. But with just one healthy receiver remaining from the high-powered 2005 Argos offence -- Oshawa's Andre Talbot -- some unheralded players will have to step up Saturday when Toronto travels to Hamilton to face the Tiger-Cats with third place in the CFL East on the line.

"As we grow less and less healthy, it provides more and more opportunities," said Argos coach Pinball Clemons, ever the optimist. "There's always a silver lining. It might be said we have a lot of opportunities ahead of us this week."

It is unclear exactly who will draw the starting assignments as receivers Saturday. Arland Bruce III missed practice yesterday after he "rolled an ankle" but said he expects to play Saturday. R. Jay Soward continues to nurse a leg injury. Tony Miles has aggravated a hamstring problem. Keith Stokes has knee woes. Michael Palmer has been out all season with a hamstring injury. Robert Baker, meanwhile, was released this week.

OPEN SPOTS

That leaves open spots for usual backups, some of whom have travelled down unique paths to this point. Davis was released by the Argos after training camp, then signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and played against Toronto twice before re-signing with the Argos off the Winnipeg practice roster. He looks at the injury situation through rose-coloured glasses.

"In the long run, anybody can replace anybody if anything is happening," Davis said. "Everybody is getting a chance to play and learn the system. It kind of works out for the best."

Azzi, who converted to receiver at the University of Ottawa after playing well as a quarterback, has had trouble getting healthy. He tore a hamstring, separated a shoulder and injured his hip flexor earlier this season.

The injuries, of course, aren't limited to receivers. Third-string quarterback Eric Crouch didn't practise yesterday, leaving the team with only two healthy pivots -- Damon Allen and Spergon Wynn. Clemons said it is possible the team will bring back Darnell Kennedy, who was released recently.


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