It's still about QBs with Argos

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:04 AM ET

It isn't often that cutdown day is easier than naming the starting quarterback for a football team's coaching staff.

But Argos coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons admitted that, in some ways, was the case yesterday as the Boatmen's roster was slashed to 46 in advance of the midnight deadline.

Among the notable releases was Canadian rookie running back Andre Durie.

It is expected that Durie and freshman Canadian receiver Brad Smith will be named to the practice roster in the next couple of days, however.

Durie, the former York University star who was coming back from reconstructive knee surgery, impressed the coaching staff throughout camp.

Players who earned their way on to the roster with strong play the past three weeks included import running back Jamel White and defensive back Willie Pile.

But as it has been throughout camp, the big story continues to be the situation at quarterback.

Clemons is playing coy as to who his starter will be for Thursday's season opener against the defending champion B.C. Lions at the Rogers Centre.

"The earliest we would probably indicate that is the day before the game," Clemons said yesterday after a morning in which 17 players were released. "It has not been articulated to them, yet."

The only thing certain is that Eric Crouch will not initially be in the mix. Crouch, who is recuperating from a minor knee injury, was designated to the nine-week injured list yesterday along with receiver Chad Rempel.

That leaves Damon Allen, Michael Bishop and Mike McMahon vying for the call on opening night.

Clemons said that among the newcomers, McMahon was the player who opened his eyes the most during the training camp.

"I didn't expect him to come in and assimilate that quickly," Clemons said of the former NFLer. "Certainly, he was playing against backups and it was pre-season, but we can't discount the way he performed and the way he carried himself.

"To me, he was probably the biggest surprise in camp."

Turns out the Argos' running back situation may have some intrigue, as well. Clemons also raved about White, the former Cleveland Brown who has also been a quick study.

"To see a veteran guy who has started games in the NFL come here and commit the time to learning and understanding, and on top of that go out and thrive on special teams, are two of the strongest statements," Clemons said.

Overall, Clemons said a third of the 46-man roster will be different from last season. A number of veterans were purged in the off-season to adhere to the new league salary cap.

Among some of the bigger names cut this weekend from CFL rosters were receiver Darrell (Mookie) Mitchell and running back Josh Ranek in Edmonton, and linebacker Donnovan Carter and wide receiver Keith Stokes by Montreal.


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