Allen a bit touchy

Quarterback Damon Allen takes a snap during practice while his backup, Michael Bishop, looks on in...

Quarterback Damon Allen takes a snap during practice while his backup, Michael Bishop, looks on in the background yesterday. (Toronto Sun/Michael Peake)

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

Damon Allen was willing to talk about football, the Montreal Alouettes and his drive to get to another Grey Cup.

But the subject of his status as the Argos' starting quarterback was off limits yesterday.

Allen agreed to meet with reporters at the team's Mississauga practice facility under the condition the words "Michael Bishop" and "quarterback controversy" were kept out of the inquisition.

Allen took the first-team snaps in a low-key workout as the Argos began preparing for Sunday's East Division final against the Als.

Though no one on the team has even hinted that Allen will be replaced by Bishop, who saved the day in the East semi-final win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the veteran didn't want to go there.

Instead, Allen is focused on the Als, who the Argos will meet for the fourth time this season and for the fifth consecutive time in the division title game.

"We've seen each other quite a few times, so there's no tricks," Allen said. "It's all about execution now, go out there and play great football for four quarters.

"The fundamental thing that will make the difference is field position, penalties and turnovers."

Allen and the Argos paid the price for not taking care of the latter area in last year's 33-17 East Final loss to the Als.

Toronto turned the ball over six times in that contest at the Rogers Centre, including two interceptions and a fumble by Allen.

In last week's semi-final win over Winnipeg, the quarterback also had a crucial interception in the end zone late in the first half that denied the team a chance to increase its lead.

Besides fuelling the quarterback debate, Bishop's late heroics were the latest episode in what has been a work-in-progress season for the Boatmen offence.

Combined with Allen's stewardship, the team rolled up 439 yards of offence against Winnipeg, a season high. Before he was yanked for Bishop, Allen connected with nine different receivers.

In particular, there has been an emphasis to get running backs involved in the passing game. Ricky Williams had two catches for 42 yards and a third for 43 more called back due to penalty.

"I like playing football, catching running, blocking whatever," Williams said yesterday when asked about the added dimension. "It's all football."

While the Alouettes have had a bye week to get rested and healthy, the Argos continue to nurse some injuries.

Running back Jeff Johnson is believed to be done for the season and although the team's second-leading receiver, Tony Miles, practised yesterday he is still a question mark.

"(Miles) is jogging around and it's good to see him back out there, but I'm not getting too excited yet," Argos coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons said yesterday. "I still have some reservations as to whether he'll be ready to play at full speed on Sunday."


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