Riall Johnson doesn't doubt for a moment that the Argonauts can emerge from their biggest game of their season tomorrow with dreams of the playoffs still dancing in their heads.
But the 6-foot-3, 240-pound defensive end wishes he cold be a bigger part of such a scenario.
The Argos are in Winnipeg to take on the Blue Bombers, and they really have no choice but to win.
At 5-9, the Bombers are two points up on the 4-10 Argos for second place in the East Division. An Argos victory puts them into second spot and they would take the tiebreaker based on winning the season series against Winnipeg; if the Argos lose, Winnipeg takes the tiebreaker and the Argos would have to win their remaining three games and the Bombers would have to lose all three for Toronto to get in.
NO DEADLINE DEALS
The CFL trade deadline, meanwhile, came and went yesterday afternoon with no moves by any team.
"All I know is I lost my job while I was injured," Johnson said. "Now I have to get it back somehow and I will do everything I can to do that."
Head coach Don Matthews was singing the praises of Johnson, but even when Johnson was told as much, he kept hitting a sour note.
"He came in saying nobody has any money in the bank with him," Johnson, a fourth-year Argo, said. "But he does not have any money in the bank with us either.
"It's added stress for us, knowing that we are not only trying to win now, but trying to keep our jobs. It's rough on us."
Johnson remains bitter that his starting job was gone when he returned to the lineup against the Calgary Stampeders two weeks ago from foot and groin injuries. Since, he has been rotating on the line with newcomer Claude Harriott.
"We're going to try to increase his role because of the skill he has as a combined linebacker, pass rusher and defensive lineman," Matthews said. "In the future, Riall's role is going to become bigger. We have to take guys like that and scheme things for them."
But it's rather obvious Johnson does not think he needs to prove himself to anybody, let alone the winningest coach in CFL history.
"There is nothing that a coach or anyone else can say that is going to make me play (harder)," Johnson said. "I play out there for my teammates and to win. If I wasn't good at football, I would not play.
"Plain and simple, I don't need football. I can get a job that pays more than this. But I don't want to work in an office right now. This is what I choose to do and I love it. I do it because I want to."
Matthews also had good things to say about linebacker Willie Pile, a second-year player who is a cornerstone of the future. In fact, Pile already is that, given his 60 defensive tackles, which leads the team.
"I love how last week they used me to blitz the passer," Pile said. "When we get pressure from the front four, that allows us to roam and make plays like we did."
Receiver P.K. Sam, nursing a groin injury, is questionable to play against Winnipeg.
"We beat this team before and we can beat them again," Johnson said. "We are due for a gift."