Benched QBs air it out

Derrell Mitchell and Damon Allen Toronto Argonauts Practice. (Toronto Sun/Greg Henkenhaf)

Derrell Mitchell and Damon Allen Toronto Argonauts Practice. (Toronto Sun/Greg Henkenhaf)

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 6:53 AM ET

Call it throwing down the gauntlet or just throwing out some friendly advice.

But Damon Allen wants to remind No. 1 and 2 quarterbacks Michael Bishop and Mike McMahon, respectively, that one good outing does not a starter make.

"We're coming off a (30-5 win) in Hamilton where we played a team with about 25 new faces," Allen said yesterday. "The true test will come when we play the Calgarys and the Saskatchewans and the quarterback is facing a veteran (defence)."

Allen, 43, was a big story despite not taking a single snap in Hamilton. He is saddled with an unfamiliar role as a backup, at least for another game, Thursday at the Rogers Centre against Calgary.

While musing that third stringers don't usually get as many cameras and microphones as he attracted yesterday, he tried to fend off talk that he's sulking about sitting and that he's not giving Bishop and McMahon the benefit of his vast Canadian football archive of information.

"But I've been disappointed that some don't think highly of me in terms of attacking my character and saying I'm a selfish person," Allen said.

That was an apparent reference to former B.C. Lion backup quarterback and now broadcaster Giulio Caravatta, who said in an article last week that Allen does not react well to benchings and is reluctant to help someone challenging for his job.

"I can change and adapt my role," Allen insisted. "I'm a big guy. I've been around the game a long time. I've seen the just and the unjust."

McMahon is not exactly thrilled either at being second fiddle. Like the 31-year-old Bishop, the 28-year-old ex-Philadelphia Eagle and Detroit Lion had high hopes of being No. 1. But he stopped short of saying he was guaranteed a prominent role here for leaving the NFL.

"I was told I would get a fair opportunity," McMahon said, after playing sporadically in the Argos' first two regular-season games. "We'll see. It's a long season, but I'm an impatient person."

He added there was "nothing between us", meaning an adversarial relationship with Allen.

The continuous cloud of controversy regarding the quarterback is not something a family-oriented head coach such as Pinball Clemons wants. He addressed both their concerns that a fair selection process was not followed before Bishop emerged as No. 1 after Allen started an opening-night loss to B.C.

But the end product he wants is exactly what the Maple Leafs are hoping will come out of the Andrew Raycroft-Vesa Toskala-Scott Clemmensen goaltending battle, one man pressed hard to stay on top by two worthy candidates.

"I can acknowldege there are three mature guys in this, not at each other's throats, but standing behind the other," Clemons said.

Doctors gave permission for placekicker Noel Prefontaine to resume practising yesterday after suffering a concussion in Week 1. An MRI later revealed a herniated disk.

"No more fun," he laughed, of being forbidden to crack helmets on kick returns or fake field goals for the time being. "Now I'll be like all the other kickers.

"The doctors told me I just have to be careful. If it was up to me, I'd play on Thursday."

Assuming he does, the Argos will release Steve Christie.


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