WINNIPEG -- Like a kid on Christmas morning, Kerry Joseph could not wait to open the box that arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago.
But unlike the kid who tosses the present aside and plays with the cardboard, Joseph couldn't put down the little piece of jewelry that arrived in the package -- his 2007 Grey Cup ring.
Joseph wore the diamond-encrusted ring on his right middle finger during the Argos' walk-through practice yesterday at Canad Inns Stadium, stressing that it was just a coincidence that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers -- the team that fell to Joseph and the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Grey Cup last November -- are the Argos' opponent tonight in the 2008 opener for both clubs.
"I was not even thinking of coming here to Winnipeg to rub it in, because I would not do that," Joseph said.
"I look at it every morning before I go to work to give me that inspiration. It's something that (former Roughriders coach) Kent Austin did last year, showing us different Grey Cup rings, that this is what it is all about, to remind you that even in the bad times, it's about winning championships. It starts (tonight)."
And to the surprise of no one who watched the Argos chug through training camp, Joseph, the 2007 CFL most outstanding player, has been tabbed to start tonight ahead of Michael Bishop.
The latter was 11-1 as the Argos' starter a year ago but came up small in the East final.
"It was a tough decision," said Argos head coach Rich Stubler, who plans to use both men this evening no matter what transpires on the field.
"It could have just as easily gone the other way. (The decision) largely was based on Kerry's play in the last pre-season game as opposed to Michael's. We felt this was the way to go."
Joseph thinks the Argos have the tools to get to the Grey Cup, and most figure the Argos and Blue Bombers will clash in the East final, as they did last fall. That game ended in a Bombers victory.
While happy to get the start, Joseph furrowed his brow when he was asked about the two quarterback system Stubler will put in play.
Stubler can be sure of one thing -- neither of his quarterbacks likes the idea.
Joseph acknowledged as much a day after Bishop sounded off on the plan.
"As a quarterback, you like to get in a groove, a rhythm," Joseph said. "I don't know if any quarterback is in favour of it. I know I'm not. That's my honest opinion.
"At the same time, you have a job to do and I have prepared to do my job every day."
No matter who is calling the plays, it is generally agreed that the Argos offence has been improved with the additions of receivers Bethel Johnson and David Boston and the tandem of Dominique Dorsey and Jamal Robertson at running back.
But lost somewhat in that feel-good angle is receiver Arland Bruce.
Bruce led the Argos with 855 receiving yards last season but that performance was tarnished when he was inconsistent in the East final.
"It was frustrating then, but it's a new year," Bruce said. "If I am open, which I will be, then I will get my opportunity to shine, just like the other guys on offence."