Two for the money

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

Last season, the Argonauts were hoping running backs John Avery and Ricky Williams would give them a lethal one-two punch in the offensive backfield.

For a number of reasons, the lethal one-two punch never materialized, but Avery believes that he and Robert Edwards, whom the Argos brought in after he was released by the Montreal Alouettes, will become just that -- a running back tandem that will terrorize CFL opponents.

"It comes down to coaching," Avery said yesterday. "I look at Robert Edwards and I see he does a lot of things I can't do. He's powerful, he attacks the line of scrimmage. We're two different backs.

"It comes down to whether (the coaching staff) can balance the talent out. (The two of us together) would be very dangerous. It would be like the Ricky Williams theory. But I think Robert is probably a better running back (in the CFL) than Ricky."

Indeed, Williams never played in the CFL before joining Toronto last season and his style as a back was not totally dissimilar to Avery. However, Edwards, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his two seasons with the Alouettes, is more of a physical back while Avery is more of a finesse back. Working together, Avery said, could keep opposing defences guessing.

In any event, Avery waved aside suggestions that he is angry that the Argos have brought in yet another guy at his position, adding that he has a "mad love" for Edwards, an old college rival. Edwards, 32, had asked the Alouettes for his release on the weekend when it was clear they were going to stick with Jarrett Payton, the son of NFL legend Walter, as their main back this season.

Still, there is no bitterness and Edwards said he is just glad to still be in football.

As for whether Avery and Edwards can co-exist, coach Mike Clemons said he isn't worried about that right now, basically because Avery, who has an injured ankle, will probably not play on Friday in Winnipeg, although Edwards likely will.

"We have an 11-game season right now and I told the guys that if we win six of 11, we have a good chance to make the playoffs," Clemons said. "If we win seven, we're in the playoffs. If we win eight we might even have a chance to host something."

The 2-5 Argos are third in the East, while the Blue Bombers are 4-2-1.

INJURY FRONT

Clemons expressed optimism that No.1 quarterback Michael Bishop would be ready to play in the Labour Day Classic (Sept. 3 in Hamilton), adding that he expects the return of cornerback Leron Mitchell, wide receiver Tony Miles and defensive end Riall Johnson for Friday's game ... Rocky Butler likely will start at quarterback against the Blue Bombers.


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