Allen large and in charge

Now that quarterback Damon Allen is calling his own plays for the first time since 2002, and with...

Now that quarterback Damon Allen is calling his own plays for the first time since 2002, and with the return of running back John Avery, the 4-5 Argos are on a roll. (Toronto Sun File/Stan Behal)

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

For the majority of his 70,112 and counting career passing yards in the CFL, Damon Allen has been calling his own plays in the huddle.

And the past two games he remembered how much he enjoyed it.

Since Argos general manager Adam Rita took over for fired offensive co-ordinator Kent Austin, he has put more than the ball in Allen's hands.

For first time in his four seasons as the Argos quarterback, Allen has been calling his own plays -- to rave reviews and results.

"When someone else is calling your plays, sometimes as a quarterback, you can only do so much," Allen said yesterday after the team's practice at the U of T's Erindale campus.

"I enjoy the responsibility and the fact that we've won our last two ball games sure helps. The guys are feeding off it."

The return of some key personnel and the emergence of John Avery as a running force has also played a big part in those two wins, of course. Suddenly, an offence that struggled earlier in the season has put up 20 and 31 points in convincing wins over Hamilton and Montreal.

Perhaps most importantly, the unit has found some balance. Avery is both healthy and the featured back once again and has responded with 168 yards the past two games.

They were certainly a buoyant bunch in yesterday's practice in advance of Friday night's showdown in Winnipeg for second place in the CFL East.

Rita has encouraged players to become involved in the offence by offering input to the coaching staff. And he figures Allen, who last called his own plays the B.C. Lions in 2002, has seen enough in his stellar CFL career to lead the way.

"These guys are grown men and they respond to a challenge," Rita said. "Our quarterback has played for over 20 years. You would think he would have something to say in what he would like to do and what he can do."

While Allen is quick to point out that Austin played a big role in winning a Grey Cup in 2004 and the CFL's Outstanding Player award a year ago, he says there are advantages to being in charge.

"It does help you getting into the flow of the game," said Allen, who is quickly closing in on Warren Moon's career mark of 70,553 yards. "It helps in getting the feel for the game. When someone else is calling the plays, the adjustment may be a little slower. But I'm able to adjust right away within a series or two.

"I think (the offensive turnaround) has a lot to do with the fact that we've started to become healthy offensively and our defence is not on the field as much. We're starting to control games and going out there dictating the pace of play."


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