Boatmen find backup beef

Toronto Argonauts defensive back Khalil Carter leads a group of visiting Harbourfront summer...

Toronto Argonauts defensive back Khalil Carter leads a group of visiting Harbourfront summer campers in a sprint across the CFL team's practice field at Erindale College in Mississauga yesterday. The kids were invited to warm up with the players. (Toronto Sun/Michael Peake)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

Football teams usually do not recruit talent in burger joints.

Like anyone else, CFL executives tend to enter these fine establishments for the sole purpose of wolfing down a juicy patty.

But the battered and bruised Argos are the exception, having tracked down a recently retired defensive lineman before he went to work at one of his six burger outlets in Vancouver on Wednesday.

In need of a healthy nose tackle and with another little plan in mind, Argos defensive co-ordinator Rich Stubler called Noah Cantor at 6:30 a.m., on Wednesday and convinced him to take the red-eye to Toronto early yesterday morning. Cantor had one practice yesterday to prepare for his one and only confirmed game -- tomorrow in Hamilton against the Tiger-Cats.

Backup nose tackle Matt Kudu (leg) is injured and starter Jeff Keeping may not be 100%, forcing the Argos to scour the continent for a quick learner. But in Cantor's case, the Argos are hoping one game leads to more down the road.

We've been trying to tempt him to come back in the stretch run in the fall," Argos coach Pinball Clemons said. "We thought this opportunity would sort of pull on his heartstrings and maybe sort of get him to miss it a little bit. This is maybe bigger than just the injury situation, but don't tell him I said that."

In truth, Cantor knows all about Clemons' desire and he is contemplating the same idea. Cantor, who runs a six-outlet burger chain and a new taco restaurant in Vancouver, will return to the west coast on Sunday, but he is keeping the door open to returning to the Argos in September.

"I have to go back to Vancouver and clean up some stuff and make sure we're organized if I did come back," said Cantor, 34, who retired in April because of family and work commitments. "Maybe in September, we'll take a look at it again."

While the young duo of Kudu and Keeping has performed nicely, the Argos have had trouble containing the run recently. Joe Smith of the B.C. Lions and Robert Edwards of the Montreal Alouettes have run for big numbers against Toronto the past two weeks.

Cantor, who will back up Keeping tomorrow, has enjoyed running his expanding food business, but it's not quite as gratifying as football.

"It's a nice opportunity to come back and hang out again," said Cantor, who has continued to work out away from football. "Especially after working for a couple months, it's work, you know. This is fun stuff ... Coming out and fooling around on the practice field, it's a lot of fun. What do we put in, a max 4 1/2 hours a day? Half of it is joking around.

"You do your assignments and do your work, but you do have fun."


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