Bashir not so special

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Two losses in a row, even on a team decimated by injuries, demands change and this time around the changes in Argoland are not limited to the quarterback position.

Earlier this week, head coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons pointed the finger squarely at his special teams as an area that has to show improvement from the first five games of the season.

Compared to last season, the Argos are averaging five yards less per punt return and just less than 61/2 fewer on kickoff returns. Worse still, their coverage teams also have shown a decline with opponents averaging almost two yards more a punt return over last season.

Yesterday, after saying he would talk to his No. 1 kick and punt returner Bashir Levingston about his production of late and whether there was any tie-in to a lingering injury, Clemons had recent addition Dominic Dorsey returning kicks and punts alongside Arland Bruce in practice, a sure sign it will be Dorsey handling the return duties tomorrow in Montreal when the Argos take on the Alouettes.

Dorsey is a running back and a two-year veteran of the CFL. He was a three-time winner of special teams player of the week last season with Saskatchewan.

DISAPPOINTING RETURNS

Clemons clearly wasn't looking forward to the discussion with Levingston

"It's difficult when you have the second-most prolific returner in Canadian Football League history on your team and he says he wants to play," Clemons said. "Sometimes you just have to say that's it."

Clemons was quick to point out it's not all on Levingston either. The injuries have had a trickle down effect on special teams, forcing some guys who normally would not play special teams at all to pitch in. That combined with the newcomers to the units, who are still getting the basics of playing special teams down, have resulted in blown assignments that have contributed to their lack of success.

Chris Hardy, a mainstay on the Argos special teams for the past five years said the Argos edge in special teams actually starting disappearing last year.

"We were spoiled here for years," Hardy said. "The first three (years) I was here we had a lot of veteran guys that were here who played special teams and they understood. We kind of snuck up on teams, took a lot of pride in it and it showed. Since then, we've had some guys leave, other retire and we've got some new young guys in. It's a matter of getting those guys to understand their role and understanding the plan. After that, it all comes down to desire and heart and want to."

So far this year the Argos special teams have had a punt blocked and had a punt returned against them for a touchdown just last week against Montreal.

MORE INJURIES

Add Canadian wide receiver Andre Talbot to the wounded list.

Talbot tore a muscle in his thigh and is out for this week. Montreal native Obed Cetoute, who was in a back-up role a week ago after starting in Calgary, returns to a starting role. Tony Miles, the Argos other starting wideout has not played since suffering a hamstring injury July 12 against Calgary and will not dress tomorrow either.

THE PROOF

THE ARGOS' SPECIAL TEAMS ARE STRUGGLING THIS SEASON:

PUNT RETURN AVG.

2007 2006

Argos 5.9 10.0

Opponents 11.1 9.3

KICKOFF RETURN AVG.

2007 2006

Argos 16.5 20.0

Opponents 22.9 23.3

PUNTING AVG.

2007 2006

Argos 44.1 46.3

Opponents 45.2 41.9


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