Argos not taking 'Cats lightly

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:37 AM ET

Kerry Joseph was completing passes for the London Monarchs of NFL Europe, Rich Stubler was the defensive co-ordinator at the University of Oregon and Pinball Clemons was a CFL all-star.

The year was 1997, and, in one of those statistical oddities, it represents the most recent time the Argos started a regular season 2-0.

But with the toothless Hamilton Tiger-Cats in town tomorrow night for a date at the Rogers Centre in Toronto's home opener, the Argos stand an excellent chance of erasing a long run of early mediocrity.

"It's hard to believe it has been 11 years, to be honest," said centre Chad Folk, the only player who has been an Argo every day since '97. "We've had some good teams for the past five or six years alone. Everyone always talks about the (importance of) a good finish, but most people don't talk about the start, which we have not done well. We say it's another game, but those two points could be huge for us later in the season."

The Argos surprised a few people when they won in Winnipeg last week to open 2008, and the Tiger-Cats didn't really surprise anybody when they fell in their first game to the Montreal Alouettes. But because the Argos-Ticats rivalry is one of the oldest in professional football, the Toronto staff and its players don't expect the visitors to play dead.

"I was in Hamilton when we were 6-10, but we played slobberknockers here," Stubler, going for his second win as many games as Argos head coach, said. "They are tough games. Hamilton has some really good athletes and (quarterback) Casey Printers has been the most valuable player in the league."

But that was four years ago, and though Printers retains the ability to give the Argos problems, the Tiger-Cats have their own recent bad history to consider. The Ticats, since 2005, are 1-17 in June and July and are 0-10 in their past 10 road games. Outside of Printers, running back Jesse Lumsden and linebacker Zeke Moreno, Hamilton is not chock-full of players who keep the opposition lying awake at night. Already, it's thought the job of head coach Charlie Taaffe could be in jeopardy.

The Argos are riding an eight-game winning streak, the third-longest in team history, and have not lost to Hamilton at home since July of 2001. But as much as it may be early July, the Argos have zero interest in rising to a 1-1 record on Friday morning.

"This team has fallen short," safety Orlondo Steinauer said. "We have one Grey Cup (since '97, in 2004). I still believe that the team you become really is important after Labour Day, but this is when we are jelling, getting to know each other. You're buying into what the coaches are selling, and you just hope to steam roll it after Labour Day."

ARGOS NOTES

Receiver David Boston will have surgery on his right foot tomorrow in Baltimore and will be out 10-12 weeks. "He is a non-story for us," Stubler said. "We won't mention him until he comes back." ... As of yesterday morning, less than 2,500 tickets were left for tomorrow night. With the upper level of the Rogers Centre closed for Argos games, capacity is 31,074.


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