Healthy Argos aim to expand their offence

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

When Steve Buratto was named the Toronto Argonauts offensive co-ordinator in the off-season, he had grand plans to open up the team's listless offence.

Some day, he hopes to use them.

By his own estimation, Buratto figures he has tapped into 30% of the playbook he hoped would help bring the Argos offence up to speed with the CFL's top defence.

But an almost unfathomable number of injuries has made that impossible for the 4-7 Argos, who face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (7-3-1) today at the Rogers Centre.

"I know all of it being with him for three years now," said Argos right guard Taylor Robertson, who played for Buratto the past two seasons in Calgary. "There's a lot of stuff we haven't even accessed yet."

Four different quarterbacks are just part of the painful story. The Argos have had 11 players with six receptions or more, and five players with 14 carries or more, as the revolving door on offence keeps swinging.

"We haven't (added) really three or four more plays that we didn't run against Montreal in the first pre-season game," Buratto said. "It's all about continuity.

"We change linemen. We change receivers. We change quarterbacks. We change so many people you can't develop the plays and expand them.

"It's really been difficult because you know you're not going to be any more successful than the weakest link. If you ask somebody to do something they don't understand, the defence puts so much pressure on him that there will be a breakdown."

The result of the roster turnover has led to some predictable results statistically.

While the Argos defence leads the league with fewest yards allowed (3,430), fewest first downs allowed (200) and fewest points allowed (18.3), the offence ranks last in first downs (182) and total yards (3,192.)

The Argos, who are three-point favourites in today's important divisional meeting with the Bombers, hope that will start to change with the return of receiver Arland Bruce from a shoulder injury.

Bruce, who has been out the past three games, and quarterback Michael Bishop have been in the lineup together three times and each game Bruce scored a touchdown.

Bishop hopes Bruce's return will be the first step in getting deeper into Buratto's playbook.

"The more guys we get back, the more opportunities we are going to have to be creative," said Bishop, who is 4-1 as starter. "I can't wait to get everybody back to open it up."


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