Argos turning the tide

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

Never mind the release of Orlondo Steinauer, new defensive schemes or the trade of Michael Bishop.

The addition of receiver Bethel Johnson to the Argonauts lineup on Monday night in Hamilton against the Tiger-Cats for the annual Labour Day Classic could be what the offence needs to finally start putting mediocrity to bed.

Putting too many expectations on the shoulders of one player can be foolish, but Johnson's return should give the Argos a needed boost.

"He adds more explosion to our offence, and the defence won't be able to push two guys to Arland (Bruce) now," quarterback Kerry Joseph said. "He's a veteran guy who understands the game and brings some leadership back on the field."

Johnson has not played since the Argos' second game of the season on July 3, when he suffered a high ankle sprain and torn ligaments.

Hoping to strike some life into a moribund offence that was last in most major categories last season, the Argos signed Johnson late in May with the idea that he could be a spark. In essence, the Argos' plan was pushed back two months, and Johnson will try to be that guy now.

The offence has accomplished close to nothing in the six games Johnson missed, and it's simply not good enough when head coach Rich Stubler has to rely on his No. 3 quarterback Reggie McNeal -- no matter how talented an athlete he might be -- to produce as a receiver.

Stubler almost was giddy at the thought of Johnson putting on the pads three nights from tonight.

"He's ready to go," Stubler said. "He is not 100% but I tell you what, he ran by a couple of our guys out there (in practice). I am sure he can return to that person I think he is. He's a great complement to the things we are trying to do out there."

Johnson, who won two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots, might take a while to find his fleet feet, but he gives the Argos a deep threat, which no one else really does.

Johnson, having been resigned to the role of spectator for a third of the season, is champing at the bit. Everyone involved with the Argos are keeping their fingers crossed that Johnson and Joseph can get to know each other fast.

"You're sitting out and watching your team and your team needs you out there and you want to do something but you can't, you just feel helpless and that sucks," Johnson, 29, said. "It's hard to have chemistry when you've only had two games, a game and a quarter so to speak. You develop that in practice. I think it's not hard to catch on once you know what the quarterback is doing."

TURMOIL

Johnson's presence in the lineup comes at a time when the Argos try to wash some of the dirt away. Whether it has been outgoing players slagging the organization, brutal play that has resulted in lopsided losses or questionable decisions, the Argos have had their share of turmoil.

It should come as no surprise the old "us against the world" mantra is picking up steam in the Argoland.

"If everybody outside this locker room is against us, and as long as we stick together and believe in each other, it's good," Joseph said.

"We have not played well against (Hamilton) going back to the pre-season. You're always looking for that challenge and what better day to have it than Labour Day."


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