Middlebrooks plays through painful loss

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

Willie Middlebrooks played with a heavy heart last night.

And given the tragic events that engulfed his personal life, the Argos' rookie cornerback played well.

Despite yielding a big play, Middlebrooks somehow found the inner strength and courage to step up and help the Argos fend off the visiting Eskimos.

For Middlebrooks, who left the team Friday, the events of the past few days were completely draining.

Middlebrooks didn't arrive back into Toronto until midnight on Saturday after laying to rest his younger brother, Isiah, in Florida.

Middlebrooks politely refused to shed light on the circumstances surrounding his brother's death in the aftermath of Toronto's 35-31 win.

"I haven't been able to sleep for the past two days," he said. "I've cried a lot and I tried to block out everything.

"I'm really proud, as a man, that I was able to go out and play."

Outside of getting burned by Edmonton receiver Fred Stamps, Middlebrooks felt comfortable in his contributions.

NO CAVING IN

The way the Argos began the day, Middlebrooks took plenty of solace in how the defence refused to cave in.

On Edmonton's first play from scrimmage, Ricky Ray caught the Argos in a man-to-man formation to hook up with Kamau Peterson on a 66-yard play.

"Just like in life, when you get hit with a hard one it's how you respond," Middlebrooks said. "I thought we responded well as a defence, as an offence and as a team."

Middlebrooks was making his return to the roster after sitting out last week's loss in Edmonton with a foot injury.

"Our true character came out," he said. "Edmonton could have made the score lopsided, but we didn't panic.

"We grew as a team."

And Middlebrooks grew as a person.


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