Fletcher out ... of the loop

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:51 AM ET

If he is not going to play, Michael Fletcher is open to moving on.

The Argonauts linebacker was taken aback yesterday when he was told by Sun Media that head coach Don Matthews doesn't think Fletcher is part of the Argos' plans of the future, immediate or otherwise.

"That's what he said? I wish he would let me know," Fletcher said. "Why am I here then? If I have trade value, trade me. If I don't, release me. I feel like a dead man walking here, if that's the case."

Matthews was asked during his news conference after the Argos' walk-through where Fletcher fit in. Matthews figured Fletcher had been apprised of the situation by defensive co-ordinator Kavis Reed, but Fletcher said no one had talked to him.

Though Fletcher is on the injured list because of a foot injury, he has insisted for more than a week that he is healthy and ready to play. Fletcher, named an all-time Argo last season at outside linebacker, has not been in the lineup since a win in Hamilton on Labour Day.

"I would say at this point, he is not looking like he is going to be considered (again) this year," Matthews said. "You never say never, but that is the road we are taking."

Fletcher started the season overweight, and Matthews noted that Adrian Mayes brings more speed to the position. And though Fletcher indicated a week ago he would not have been shocked had the Argos officially wanted to move in a different direction, he would have liked to have heard it from a member of the staff. As it is, general manager Adam Rita said there are no plans to lop Fletcher off the roster.

It's the latest juicy tidbit in a season that has had more conversation-starters than a Sunday dinner at Sarah Palin's house. The Argos are looking up at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the East Division playoff battle and unless there is a change of mind on Matthews' part, quarterback Cody Pickett will make his second consecutive start tonight when the Calgary Stampeders visit the Rogers Centre.

Fletcher wasn't the only Argo who had a burr under his saddle yesterday. Defensive end Riall Johnson will play, but he will not start. That assignment goes to newcomer Claude Harriott, who has impressed Matthews.

Johnson, who was starting before he suffered a groin injury in Week 10, is not thrilled that he lost that spot while he was hurt.

At least Johnson is playing. Fletcher, who is in his seventh season with Toronto, has been a stalwart on defence. But with Orlondo Steinauer and Chuck Winters already gone, the confirmation that Fletcher's Argos career essentially is done is not a big shock.

Still, he found it a bitter pill to swallow.

"That's the business," Fletcher said. "I am fine with them wanting to move on, but it seems like they are holding my career hostage.

"I have nothing against Don. He came into a situation where there was a lot of mess sitting on his desk waiting for him to attempt to clear up. One thing he did say is everybody has a blank check, and everybody has played except me."


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