He's built 'tough'

Eskimos WR T.J. Acree walks toward the sidelines carrying his helmet over his shoulder at the Esks...

Eskimos WR T.J. Acree walks toward the sidelines carrying his helmet over his shoulder at the Esks practice at Commonwealth Stadium's Practice Field June 24/07 morning. (Brendon Dlouhy/Sun Media)

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

T.J. Acree isn't the most accomplished receiver on the Argos and he isn't the quickest, either.

But there's an intangible to him that caught the eye of the Argos, one that separates Acree from his pigskin peers.

"He's tough,'' rookie head coach Rich Stubler said yesterday when he announced that Acree will make his debut in Double Blue in Thursday's home opener against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

"We want a guy who is a pattern receiver, one who will go over the middle and catch the ball, while at the same time getting the snot kicked out of him," Stubler said. "There aren't many guys willing to do that."

Acree will, in essence, replace David Boston on the active roster. Stubler has the option to start Acree, who has started in Edmonton and B.C., or go with James Robinson, a raw rookie who dressed for Friday's game in Winnipeg.

Boston has left the Argos to undergo foot surgery.

Coincidentally, Acree's season with the Eskimos was cut short last year by a foot injury that kept the 5-foot-11, 174-pounder on the sidelines for the final six games.

One of Stubler's most trusted coaches is offensive line coach Bill MacDermott, who rejoined the Boatmen following years of distinguished service in Edmonton.

"Coach Mac mentioned how T.J. would spend part of the week in a cast, but would come out and play,'' Stubler said. "He's tough and I want that."

BALL IN JOSEPH'S COURT

The quarterback guessing game is over, at least as far as Stubler is concerned.

"Kerry Joseph is the starter,'' Stubler said. "He hasn't lost his position."

The way Stubler looks at it, he has two proven quarterbacks in Joseph, who started against the Blue Bombers, and Michael Bishop, last year's incumbent who finished the game in Winnipeg.

Neither Joseph nor Bishop looked particularly sharp in the Argos' 23-16 win, but Stubler insists the blame shouldn't fall on the shoulders of his signal callers.

But one thing is certain: The Argos need to get the football into the hands of their playmakers, namely Arland Bruce III and Bethel Johnson.

Outside of Jamal Robertson, who lines up at tailback, not a single pass-catcher produced a play that exceeded 20 yards.

KICK STARTED

Mike Vanderjagt missed his first three field goals in his return to the CFL.

After leaving the league for the greener pastures of the NFL, Vanderjagt redeemed himself by nailing his last two attempts in Winnipeg.

To the uninitiated, the CFL and NFL use different hash marks when field goals are attempted.

In the CFL, the hash marks are lined up six yards to the side of the upright.

Vanderjagt was wide left from the left hash, wide right on the right hash and came up short on a 51-yard attempt.

"In the NFL, those kicks are right down the middle," Stubler reasoned.

In addition, Stubler believes the Argos have done Vanderjagt a disservice by not practising on a field fitted with uprights, an oversight that will be addressed.

"We had two days all of camp where we went some place that had goalposts," Stubler said. "That's a coaching fault and I'll take that."


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