QB concerns for Argos?

If quarterback Damon Allen stays healthy, the Argos, now 4-5, are confident of meeting their...

If quarterback Damon Allen stays healthy, the Argos, now 4-5, are confident of meeting their post-season aspirations. (Toronto Sun File/Stan Behal)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

The Damon Allen love-in at the Rogers Centre on Saturday night overshadowed the one ugly wart on the Good Ship Argonaut.

What happens to this team if Allen goes down again?

The Argos offence hacked and wheezed after its starting quarterback was knocked woozy by Montreal Alouettes linebacker Louis Mackay late in the second quarter.

Backup Spergon Wynn hit on just 1-of-4 passes, temporarily sucking the enthusiasm out of the 30,000-plus fans in attendance. This was, after all, the same Spergon Wynn who could not lead the Argos past midfield during a humiliating 31-7 loss in Montreal two weeks ago.

To the relief of the entire stadium, Allen returned late in the third quarter to save the day.

In the final 18 minutes of play, he led the Argos to 17 points en route to a 31-6 thrashing of the heavily favoured Als. In the process, he connected with Keith Stokes for 37 yards, a completion that allowed him to join Warren Moon as the only two men in pro football to throw for more than 70,000 yards.

"You could see the way that team got a lift when Damon got back out there," Als quarterback Anthony Calvillo said.

If Allen stays healthy, the Argos, now 4-5, are confident of meeting their post-season aspirations.

But that is a big if.

Allen, 43, is playing with a tightly wrapped finger on his throwing hand that will require surgery after the season. One hit is all it might take to put him on the shelf again.

Then what?

It is obvious the Argos aren't oozing with confidence when it comes to backups Wynn, Michael Bishop and Eric Crouch. Why else would they recently woo former star Doug Flutie, who ultimately opted to remain in the broadcast booth?

Perhaps the solution, both for the short and long term, can be found at the training camp of the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs, where 2004 CFL MVP Casey Printers is said to be on thin ice.

Media reports of Printers' pre-season debut called it "a nightmare" and suggested the former B.C. Lions quarterback looked "shellshocked against NFL competition."

The ugly numbers put up by Printers in that 24-14 Chiefs' exhibition loss to the Houston Texans featured an interception and a lost fumble. He also was sacked five times.

His stats only modestly improved in the following outing, a 17-0 setback to the New York Giants last Thursday. He went just 5-for-10 for 33 yards, prompting TV analyst Troy Aikman to suggest Printers is having difficulty adapting to the NFL game.

While Chiefs starter Trent Green's job is secure, Printers is battling three other QBs for the two backup spots: Damon Huard, who is recovering from a foot sprain, third-round pick Brodie Croyle, who is rehabbing a shoulder injury, and recently signed Jeff Smoker.

Printers isn't the first CFL-tested pivot to struggle testing the NFL waters in recent years. Ricky Ray, Henry Burris and Dave Dickenson all returned to the Canadian game after failing to make it south of the border.

"They all came back (to the NFL) too quickly," Moon recently told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I knew I wasn't ready to come back after my second year."

Moon spent the first six years of his Hall of Fame career with the Edmonton Eskimos before bolting to the Houston Oilers.

Given his recent woes in K.C., Printers would surprise no one if he wound up back in the CFL.

His rights are still controlled by the Lions, who appear to be set at QB with Dickenson and Buck Pierce.

Since he is in his option year, trading Printers' CFL rights might be the most logical decision for the Lions.

And no team would benefit more from acquiring him than the Argos, who would be set at the position for years no matter how long Allen keeps on going.

If available, Printers would fix a major Achilles heel for the Argos. Keeping that in mind, general manager Adam Rita and the Toronto braintrust already should be thinking of a package they can throw at the Lions to procure Printers' rights.

Unless they feel they can win with Wynn. And so far, that has not been the case.


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