Belli puckers up to one and all

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

Adriano Belli is known as the Kissing Bandit because he greets anyone he meets with a peck on the cheek.

But if Belli lives up to his reputation on the field as a tough spark plug, the Argos happily will accept some of his colourful tendencies.

"He has charisma, mojo, those types of things you can't teach," Argos coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons said yesterday at Erindale as Toronto began its training camp.

"He has a swagger in positive way. You need those types of things, especially on a defence that is pretty mature and has had a lot of success. He makes us instantly better down the middle."

There were some absences on the first day of camp.

Offensive guard Glen Carson, who was acquired from Edmonton for a 2007 second-round pick in January, will not report and is expected to retire.

Offensive guard Jeff Keeping suffered an injury to his right knee in the mini-camp last week and will be out indefinitely.

A Toronto native who attended Central Tech before playing his college ball with the University of Houston, the 29-year-old Belli will earn a CFL pay cheque in the city where his heart lies.

The 6-foot-5, 289-pounder took himself off the list of free agents in February when he left the Montreal Alouettes and to sign with the Argos.

Fans of the Double Blue know all about Belli, who also played for the Hamilton Tiger Cats after he broke into the CFL with the B.C. Lions.

"I always thought I would eventually play for my home town," Belli said after planting kisses on a couple of unsuspecting reporters.

"They brought me in to play nose tackle, and I'm going to like that. I like trying to play against three big piggies who are trying to beat me up.

"I'm going to be in a fight the whole game and that is what they pay me for."

Aside from the unusual greeting, the confidence in Belli that Clemons spoke of was evident yesterday as Belli said he was excited "to play in the Grey Cup" later this year, not that he was excited about the possibility of playing in the big game.

"I'll tell you what," said Belli, whose family owns a meat-packing plant in Mississauga.

"The motto around here is, 'Whatever it takes' and I like that.

"As long as we get there is all I care about."

What about the wet cheeks he leaves in his sizable wake?

"I'm an Italian who grew up in Toronto," Belli said with smile. "I like kissing people."


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