Bishop makes his move

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

In terms of his skill set, Michael Bishop is better at throwing the football than handing it off.

But with a strong performance in yesterday's pre-season opener against the Montreal Alouettes, the prospective Argos starting quarterback has done just that.

Over to you, Damon Allen.

Bishop looked sharp, efficient and perhaps most importantly confident as the Argos starter in an otherwise sloppy and mostly meaningless 27-13 win against the Als.

With some consideration to Mike McMahon, who looked sharp in the fourth quarter against those well down the Montreal depth chart, Bishop made the loudest statement.

With a solid starting effort in front of 18,156 at the Rogers Centre, Bishop showed he is ready to give Allen a fight.

After five years as a backup, the 31-year-old Texas native is the closest he has been to becoming a CFL starter.

"I noticed a lot of poise, like a mature quarterback," Argos receiver and Bishop's potential go-to guy, Arland Bruce, said. "That's what we need in this locker room. Bishop is capitalizing on the things he did positive last year."

With Allen not dressed yesterday to give Bishop an opportunity to distinguish himself, it appears to be a two-man race in the 18 days leading to the season-opener against the B.C. Lions.

"I loved the way he came out," Argos coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons said of Bishop, who marched the offence downfield for a touchdown on the first drive of the game. "Michael attacks the field. He ran back and threw a couple of balls only he can throw.

"We're proud of him to come back this year and be as focused as he is."

Bishop, who completed seven of 13 attempts for 122 yards and ran for 22 more on two carries, felt he made his point.

"Coming in as a backup, you are always coming into a situation, trying to get back in a game," said Bishop, who ran the offence for the first and third quarters. "(Yesterday) I had the chance to go out with the first group knowing what I wanted to do with the ball and where I wanted to go."

Bishop got a nice assist from new offensive coordinator, Steve Buratto, who made sure some of the best offensive tools were at the ready.

The first two plays of the game were short passes in the flat to sure-handed Bruce to help ease Bishop into the game. And how about this Argos fans -- Buratto also showed he won't be afraid to run the ball. All three touchdowns, including the opener by John Avery, came on the ground.

Highlights for Bishop included nifty receptions by Michael Palmer up the middle for 39 and 20 yards, each of those showing off Bishop's quick release and strong arm. Bishop also scampered for a pair of first downs on play-action calls.

If there was a concern about Bishop, Clemons said that in the third quarter he tried to make too many plays based on athleticism rather than from the playbook.

"I really love his passion," Clemons said. "We just have to make sure we control that. If he's going to be a leader, that can't manifest itself and be out of control."


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