New beginning for Joseph

Kerry Joseph was anointed the No. 1 QB by the Argos on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Dave Thomas)

Kerry Joseph was anointed the No. 1 QB by the Argos on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Dave Thomas)

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:30 AM ET

If Kerry Joseph feels the need to bark at any of his fellow Argonauts this season, they shouldn't take it personally.

A vocal Joseph would indicate that the 35-year-old, who has started training camp as the club's No. 1 quarterback, is much more comfortable in a leadership role with Toronto than he was last year.

Comfort might seem like a strange concept for Joseph in Double Blue. There was little of it in 2008, when Joseph was embroiled in a quarterback controversy that split the team and led it down a ruinous path that didn't include the playoffs. The precious few times Joseph resembled the man who was named the most outstanding player in the Canadian Football League the previous year.

"The biggest thing is I don't have to answer questions like I did on the first day of camp last year," Joseph said yesterday as Argos quarterbacks and rookies were on the gridiron in Mississauga for the first day of training camp.

"It's not about me. I can't win the Grey Cup by myself. I need every last one of these guys on the field.

"(Last season) is over and done with. It was a motivator. I pray I never have to see a situation like that again playing the game of football."

A year ago, Rich Stubler refused to say whether Joseph or Michael Bishop would be the starter. New coach Bart Andrus cut out any chance of a mess immediately.

"In my mind, he is the guy that everybody else has to beat out," Andrus said of Joseph. "He's our starter and he is our leader until he proves otherwise or somebody else steps up."

Those behind Joseph this spring include veteran Cody Pickett and freshmen Stephen Reaves and Kinsmon Lancaster. Reggie McNeal, listed as a quarterback, will start 2009 as he ended 2008 -- as a wide receiver. As for Bishop, the ugliness had oozed into the Argos locker room by the time he was traded to Saskatchewan late last August, and he plays now for something called the Corpus Christi Hammerheads of the Indoor Football League.

Joseph, his quarterback colleagues and Argos rookies took part in the initial day of practices yesterday that demonstrated Andrus' first camp will be a physical one. Veterans are on the field on Sunday.

Andrus, whose football background is in offence, said he wants Joseph to re-discover the passing accuracy the 35-year-old demonstrated two years ago with the Roughriders. Joseph, in his brief peeks at Andrus' playbook, likes what he sees.

"It's kind of similar to '07, when Kent Austin came in (to Saskatchewan)," Joseph said. "He was an offensive-minded coach. It's like deja vu. Bart has a great offensive scheme. We're going to attack in many ways. Across the field, down the field, in the run game, that's his whole mentality. I'm going to have a lot of fun with this offence."

In other news, The Argos signed running back Jay Lucas and wide receiver/kick returner Kenny O'Neal, and released wide receiver Frank Murphy.


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