Palmer getting chance with Argos

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

This was supposed to be Michael Palmer's breakout season in the Argos offence.

The coaching staff was demanding it and the former University of Guelph receiver was expecting it.

Unfortunately those hopes went pop in concert with his right hamstring early in training camp, leading to what so far has been a summer of frustration.

The pain from the injury is gone and the rest will start to ease tomorrow night in Winnipeg when Palmer becomes the latest healthy body to return to the Argos' lineup.

"My goal for this year was to be a starter so when I had the injury it was devastating," Palmer said yesterday after practice at the U of T's Erindale campus. "I've just been pacing the sidelines in practice and the games especially were frustrating. Now I just can't wait for (tomorrow)."

Palmer made an impression on the Argos brass last season, in particular with his late-game-winning touchdown against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. But an off-season lunch meeting with Argos general manager Adam Rita spelled out the need to continue to improve and contribute.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

"What I told him is I expected him to be a better player," Rita said. "It was his third or fourth year and time for him to step up. Unfortunately he got hurt and we've kind of gone on without him."

Gone perhaps, but definitely not forgotten.

Rita has been a big believer in Palmer for a couple of reasons. One because the talent appraiser in him has seen potential. And two, he's well aware of the value of having a Canadian producing at a skill position.

"I think (Palmer) understands it's very important for him to come back and contribute as soon as possible," said Rita, who doubles as offensive coordinator now and is anxious to give Palmer his shot.

"He's got the mindset and the skill level so I expect him to do that. I think when you expect things from people, they usually live up to it as long as you are up front with them."

Palmer will start out by seeing mostly special teams duty, but Rita made it clear yesterday that he plans to immerse the 25-year-old in the offence sooner than later.

"In the off-season, I really gained an understanding of the game and really felt confident going into camp. Now I know I'm ready," the Oakville native said.

BRIEFLY

A pair of Argos players were honoured yesterday by the CFL for their efforts in last week's 31-6 win over Montreal. Defensive back Byron Parker was named defensive player of the week while kicker Noel Prefontaine earned the nod for special teams play.


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