Argos put faith in Allen

ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

He didn't dress in the pre-season opener and was hammered in the second.

But in the daily grind of training camp, Damon Allen won the right to lead the Argos into the CFL season opener this Thursday against the reigning Grey Cup champion British Columbia Lions.

New Argos offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto confirmed yesterday that Allen will get the nod over Michael Bishop and Mike McMahon to start the 2007 campaign.

"It was a pretty close challenge, but Damon was the most consistent all through camp," Buratto said.

"He didn't play well (in Montreal last Thursday) but he didn't have a chance."

Buratto was referring to the protection breakdowns that had defenders in Allen's grill.

"He did show us that he can take a lick and keep on ticking," Buratto said of Allen, who took the bulk of snaps at yesterday's practice, the first in preparation for the season curtain-raiser at the Rogers Centre.

Allen didn't dress in the first pre-season game to give the coaching staff a better chance to evaluate the other prospects.

EVALUATION

Buratto said that some 1,400 plays were evaluated during training-camp sessions over the past three weeks, which was where Allen -- who is about to enter his 23rd season in the league -- essentially earned the job.

Bishop had a strong first half in the pre-season opener against the Als, but was limited to four minutes in the return contest.

McMahon may have been the biggest surprise, coming in with no CFL experience and quickly catching the eye of the coaching staff.

But both of his pre-season appearances -- in which he moved the offence efficiently -- came against Montreal's second and third-team defences.

Also working in Allen's favour is his experience, considering the Argos kick off the season against a Lions defence known for its complex defensive schemes.

"All (three quarterbacks) have a lot of skill, but one of the big concerns is playing a team like B.C., which has one of the most complicated secondaries in the league," Buratto said.

"They show more variety than anybody else and Damon's experience will be a help. Damon is less likely to get fooled."

Buratto said he is pleased with the degree to which the team has grasped the new offence and is optimistic heading into the opener.

"I think we have a chance to do some good things against B.C.," he said.


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