Crunch time for Argos

STEVE SIMMONS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

Of all the numbers that define this dysfunctional mess of an Argos season, none means more than the number two.

That represents the games Michael Bishop has started at quarterback for the Argos with a healthy or semi-healthy Arland Bruce catching the ball.

Would Indianapolis be expected to win without Peyton Manning throwing to Marvin Harrison?

Why should the Argos be any different?

And it's not just that. Could the Colts win without Manning, Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Joseph Addai? Could they win without their backup quarterback, Jim Sorgi? Could they win with their fourth-string quarterback and their third starting running back and a changing group of receivers every week?

Bishop and Bruce have started all of two games together this season. Two wins on the field. Two touchdown catches for the spectacular Bruce, who hasn't been healthy enough to be anything close to spectacular this Canadian Football League season.

"All I can do is imagine," said Bruce, knowing he still has yet to be cleared to play Sunday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. "I feel I'm a franchise player. I look at him as though he's a franchise player. It's like, if I go on a trip to Hawaii I can tell you about it, but all you can do is imagine the possibilities.

"That's what I do with Michael. I imagine the possibilities."

It is time to stop imagining and start doing. There is really no time to waste. The Argos are in a slow two-horse race to make the playoffs and the other horse happens to be the Edmonton Eskimos.

Toronto has a rather depressing 4-7 record.

Edmonton isn't a whole lot better at 4-6-1.

Somebody who doesn't deserve it is getting into the playoffs.

Both teams have seven games left. The Argos are at home for four. Edmonton, with a crappy road record, is away for four.

With one proviso: The Argos need to be ahead of the Eskimos heading into the final week of the regular season because Edmonton finishes up in Hamilton, which is about the only sure thing left in Canadian football.

Arland Bruce, who is no sure thing to play on Sunday, has had more treatments than touchdowns this season, more tests than catches. He still leads the team in scores with four and in time spent in the hyperbaric chamber. Neither statistic is anything to be proud of.

This has been a strange Argos season in so many ways. All the Damon Allen distractions. The dance with Mike McMahon. The Rocky Butler era. The signings of all-stars of days gone by -- Mookie Mitchell, Marc Boerigter and Robert Edwards -- all of whom have not played like all-stars here. The running back shuffle. The cutting of Bashir Levingston. The constant rotation of injured players. A team that can beat Hamilton and is 1-7 against everybody else.

And, oh yeah, the Grey Cup happens to be here for the first time in 15 years.

"I feel like I'm coming into training camp right now," said Bruce, who when healthy is just about Toronto's most entertaining athletic performer. "I'm starting to feel good. My expectations are high, they're always high. I'm not worried about putting up stats. I'm not worried about that. My thing is a victory, how can we get a victory?

"We can't afford to lose any more."

Coming back this weekend would mean something to Bruce. He was injured against Winnipeg, on what he thinks was a late hit by linebacker Corey Jenkins. His shoulder hasn't been the same since. Just yesterday, he found he could lift his left arm above his head.

"I feel like I'm ready," he said. "I've got my weight back. I can't wait to get back in the lineup. I can't wait to make some plays."

Then judge the Argos. Judge them when they have their team on the field. They have two games against Winnipeg, two against Edmonton, two against Montreal, one in Saskatchewan.

The schedule maker, like their season, hasn't been kind.


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