Loyalty's out, it's all about performance for Argos

TERRY KOSHAN

, Last Updated: 12:39 PM ET

CALGARY -- Reach for those roster sheets -- the Argonauts won't look overly familiar tonight when they take on the Stampeders.

Even head coach Don Matthews acknowledged as much yesterday.

"Some of you might know (the lineup) better than I do," Matthews said, not really joking.

The omissions of Argos, because of injury or otherwise, reads like a who's who of formerly dependable players. None of linebacker Michael Fletcher (who has been added to the injured list with a foot problem, even though he said this week he is "100%"), free safety Kenny Wheaton (shoulder), defensive end Ronald Flemons (undisclosed) or offensive guard Jude St. John (hamstring) made the trip west. The Argos have 10 players on the injured list, but as for the extent of their injuries, discuss amongst yourselves.

Newcomers such as free safety Will Poole, defensive end Claude Harriott, offensive guard Andrew Greene and receiver P.K. Sam all should see time tonight. Rookie Mark DeWit, a Calgary native, is pencilled in to start for St. John. Tackle Kenyatta Walker also is in the lineup, as is defensive back Pete Hunter.

Had it been the choice of assistant general manager Greg Mohns, changes would have been made long ago.

"We had four or five players hit the wall at the same time, and it was something I was trying to prevent," Mohns said. "I can only make recommendations, and they were listened to, but there was no action."

Mohns didn't mention former head coach Rich Stubler by name, but it was not necessary.

"Coaches become very loyal to their players," Mohns, who has the task of bringing in new players, said. "Having coached, I can understand that, but you can't get blinded by your loyalty to your players."

The problem that strikes the Argos, who need a win for all sorts of reasons, is that it's a big gamble to insert so many new faces at once. And this is not taking into consideration the first CFL start for quarterback Cody Pickett.

"It will be interesting," Mohns said. "We're excited about the new talent, but now we have to see how they are when the live bullets fly."

For a player such as DeWit, who doesn't turn 22 until Nov. 3, the challenge will be difficult. He is a big kid at 6-foot-3 and 295 pounds, but he probably will line up against 6-foot-5, 307-pound defensive tackle Eddie Freeman. Plus, DeWit will have at least 25 family members and friends watching live.

"Coach Matthews talked about how it is a tryout for us now," DeWit said. "If I want to play in this league, I have to start proving myself."


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