The time is now for Pickett

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:38 PM ET

CALGARY -- Argonauts quarterback Cody Pickett received some advice from a different corner yesterday.

"If you can get some good things going, stick your nose out there to try to make some uncharacteristic plays, you can get guys to rally," Calgary Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris said. "You can get that emotion swing going and energy in the huddle once you get the rhythm."

Of course, the Stamps are not planning to see what Pickett, who will make his first CFL start tonight at McMahon Stadium, can do if he gets into a groove. The new Don Matthews era in Argoland begins in earnest this evening, as Matthews didn't have much time to make an impact prior to his first game last week, a humiliating loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Seven days later, the scenario is different. There are changes throughout the lineup, Matthews has identified the players on offence who need to get the ball more, and most importantly, Pickett will start in place of Kerry Joseph.

Still, this one has brutal loss written all over it, as the Argos, losers of four of their past five, could be in big trouble. Burris had a career outing against Montreal a week ago, throwing for 408 yards and five touchdowns. The Stamps have won four of their past five, and might be playing the best football in the league. What's more, Calgary's defence against the run is best in the CFL, which could hurt the Argos if Pickett wants to play it safe.

Cross your fingers Pickett is more evocative on the field than off. He doesn't exactly leave reporters scrambling for their dictionaries.

"Hopefully we are prepared for whatever they want to bring at us," Pickett said. "And hopefully we are a success."

The Stampeders weren't holding back secrets after their walk-through under warm, sunny skies. They've been down the unheralded quarterback route another time this season and were burned. On July 24, they faced Winnipeg's Ryan Dinwiddie in his first regular-season start in the CFL, and lost 32-28. Dinwiddie threw for 450 yards.

"A lot of people saying this is like the Winnipeg game when Dinwiddie got the start and lit us up," said Stampeders defensive end Mike Labinjo, a Toronto native who went to St. Mike's before playing college ball at Michigan State. "I know a lot of guys are motivated to not let that happen again, especially on our home turf. We want to harass him as much as possible."

That the Stamps will see Pickett, and not Joseph, the 2007 CFL most outstanding player, didn't bowl them over.

"No one in the East is doing good except for Montreal," linebacker JoJuan Armour said. "The border is still open.

"Our goal is to hit (Pickett) as much as possible. Try to get in his head early, make it as difficult as possible for him."

Pickett is no stranger to starting, having done it twice for the San Francisco 49ers in 2005, and last year with the Rhein Fire of NFL Europa. And yes, he confirmed, he used to throw footballs to his dad, Dee, while the latter would ride past on one of his rodeo horses. So the talent is there. Whether it translates into an Argos victory will be unveiled in a few hours.

"If you don't play well, you won't be in there," Pickett said. "I have to make some completions and get us moving."


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