Wheaton aims to build trust

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:43 AM ET

Kenny Wheaton knows he will be barking defensive sets from the free safety position tomorrow night for the Argonauts.

When he peers into the future, however, Wheaton is guessing.

"I see what's happening," Wheaton said of the Argos' continually changing defence. "I'm always thinking this could be my last game or my last year because I understand it's a dirty business. I'm 33. I'm not blind.

"But do I still have it? Yeah."

Wheaton is one of the few remaining pieces who have been part of the defensive puzzle in the past, along with cornerback Byron Parker, linebackers Mike O'Shea and Kevin Eiben, and linemen Jonathan Brown and Adriano Belli.

Head coach Don Matthews, who has had a great view of two shellackings since taking over from Rich Stubler, thinks highly of Wheaton, but not as much when it comes to Michael Fletcher, Riall Johnson and Ronald Flemons. Neither Fletcher nor Flemons is likely to play against the Calgary Stampeders at the Rogers Centre tomorrow, but Johnson, who has recovered from a groin injury, is bound to get some action.

Johnson has missed the past two games but would love to line up against his brother Teyo, a receiver with the Stamps.

"I'm not starting, but I am playing, I guess," Johnson said. "Everyone is frustrated here. We are 4-8."

Matthews would say only that Johnson will be on the 46-man roster.

"Riall has a brother over there and he is begging to play," Matthews said. "We'll see if he is a good guy or not and if he is we will get him in."

Whatever the case with Johnson, the changes to the defence that have included the recent additions of Claude Harriott, Walter Curry as well as others in the past weeks have put the group back to Square 1. Because it's happening this late into the season, chemistry is hard to come by.

"(Camaraderie) is nothing you get in four weeks or six weeks," Wheaton said. "It happens in the locker room first. The first thing is respect, and for the most part we have that. The second step, and it is probably the toughest, is believing in the person next to you. It's tough because you have not been around that person to totally give it your all.

"We have to believe that this person is going to be where he has to be on every play. That's what we have to work toward, and it takes the longest."

Watching the likes Orlondo Steinauer and Chuck Winters go and seeing the roles of Fletcher, Flemons and Johnson and others reduced drastically have taken a toll on Wheaton. These are players who knew each other's little nuances and had that complete trust that is lacking now. Not only are the Argos supposed to get to know each other past their first names, they are trying to be competitive in the playoff hunt. And we all know how that has gone in the past three weeks.

"I don't know if anyone wants to say it, but it's starting over," Wheaton said. "On defence we are starting over. I do have faith in the young guys because they are working hard.

"(But the flux) is something I have never been a part of, and I hope I never am again."


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