Penultimate pressure

Toronto Argonauts kicker Noel Prefontaine helps Bill Szijarto work on his kicking technique...

Toronto Argonauts kicker Noel Prefontaine helps Bill Szijarto work on his kicking technique Thursday at The Rogers Centre after practice. Szijarto will be kicking for a million dollars. (Toronto Sun/Fred Thornhill)

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

The Saskatchewan Roughriders vow they will be more than tackling dummies for the work-in-progress Argos backfield.

But there is clearly more on the line for the home side tonight at the Rogers Centre in the penultimate game of the CFL season for both.

The Green 'Riders (8-8) did their important work a week ago with a last-minute win over the Montreal Alouettes to secure a playoff spot.

Other than the usual talk of promising a big effort, they have little to play for tonight as their West Division semi-final date in Calgary is already booked.

The Argos (10-6), meanwhile, have a significant stake beyond running their winning streak to four in a rowand nine of their past 10.

A victory will clinch a home playoff date and move them that much closer to wrapping up top spot in the East and the first-round bye that goes with it.

A loss and/or a Montreal win tomorrow against Edmonton and next Saturday's Als-Argos showdown here would be a battle for first.

Argos coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons is looking beyond the standings, however. Despite an offence loaded with stars, the coach acknowledges the two-back set of Ricky Williams and John Avery still needs some work.

"Having those two guys play together as a two-back set as a tandem backfield (is important)," Clemons said. "They haven't played together a whole lot. We have an offence we are trying to tailor around those guys. We'd like to see a little continuity there."

The Argos running game struggled last week in Edmonton, as Williams (38 yards on seven carries) and Avery (28 yards on six carries) were held in check.

"No matter what our record is, our goal is to play well," Williams said yesterday. "It's all just talk. We're trying to win every game."

Wins are one thing, but Argos linebacker Mike O'Shea said it is also important for the team to get a gauge of where it needs to be over the next month and change.

"We've got to win for us, we've got to put it all together so we know what we are capable of when we get to the playoffs," said O'Shea. "We want to be on a roll. We want to be executing as close to flawlessly as we can."

Saskatchewan coach Danny Barrett promised not to roll over, saying he plans to start quarterback Kerry Joseph and running back Kenton Keith and keep them in.

"We've brought all our best players to play and that's what we will do," Barrett said yesterday.

"This isn't a practice run. We've still got things we have to do to get better."


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