EDMONTON -- Put up points or shut up.
With the Argos offence in tatters, quarterback Kerry Joseph knows all eyes will be on his back tonight when he takes the first snap at Commonwealth Stadium against the Edmonton Eskimos. And the fact that Joseph will be calling the shots is welcomed by the 34-year-old, pressure and all.
"It's about us taking control," Joseph said yesterday. "We have not played up to our potential in the first two weeks and we know we can play better football. We have the freedom to put the offence back in a position where we have success, and that will be my job."
The Argos need something, anything, to fuel an offence that has produced a paltry average of 234 yards in their first two games, a CFL low. It's expected Michael Bishop will get some reps as well, but at this point, head coach Rich Stubler probably would bring back Condredge Holloway if he thought it would help.
If nothing else, the quarterbacking story drew plenty of attention yesterday, but Stubler did not wince. Even he is calling the situation a controversy, something he has let the media do in the past few weeks.
"We've got more news for a 1-1 football team than I have ever seen," Stubler said. "We are going to get rid of the controversy and find a way to win games with the two of them."
Stubler confirmed a report late last night that Bishop has been put on recallable waivers, but called it a "non-story."
"No," he said when asked if the Argos intend to move Bishop. "That would be kind of stupid, wouldn't it (to try to get rid of Bishop when Stubler has been adamant that Bishop will play)?"
But the move is bound to get speculation going that, at the least, the Argos are trying to see what interest there may be across the league in Bishop.
Joseph should be more comfortable tonight than he was a week ago when he took every snap in a loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. One of Joseph's assets is to think on his feet and move out of the pocket, which happened in the second half last week after he started calling plays. But if Stubler's plan to give the quarterbacks control backfires, the game film could get ugly.
One integral Argo who will not be involved tonight is receiver Bethel Johnson, who sprained his right ankle against the Ticats. Cornerback Willie Middlebrooks (foot) also will not play, but Stubler expected both to be in uniform on July 20 when the home-and-home set between the clubs ends at the Rogers Centre.
A pair of former Argos -- kicker/punter Noel Prefontaine and cornerback Jordan Younger -- are itching to face their former teammates. Prefontaine criticized Argos brass on Tuesday in an interview with Sun Media and kept at it yesterday, saying he expected more from Stubler and Argos general manager Adam Rita when he was traded in May.
"It was almost like they thought: 'Let's get rid of Pre as quickly and as quietly as possible so no one makes a fuss,' " Prefontaine said. "I can deal with the fact they think (Mike Vanderjagt) will make them a better team. I am more upset about how they thought I was going to react."
The Argos are 7-1 against Edmonton in their past eight meetings, and have not lost in the Alberta capital since 2003.
"The record means nothing," centre Chad Folk said. "We beat Hamilton nine games in a row and we had our butts handed to us."