Boatmen should improve ... but by eight wins?

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

The magic number is 12.

Whether that can be achieved, well, that is another matter entirely.

Not eight months after the Argonauts dragged their tails out of the cold autumn air with a 4-14 record and no invitation to the Canadian Football League playoffs, that is the number of wins Argos co-owner David Cynamon projects for his club in 2009.

If there is an undeniable fact about training camp in any sport, it's that when each team gets a fresh start, pessimism is for losers.

"The playoffs are a must," Cynamon said yesterday afternoon. "It has to happen."

Enough variables will await the Argos veterans when they report for medicals tomorrow that it is hard to say where this team will be standing when the season concludes. But a dozen victories in 18 games seems to be an awful lot for a group that will have a new coach in Bart Andrus, a recovering quarterback in Kerry Joseph and a slew of leadership holes left by the departed Mike O'Shea, Chad Folk and Jude St. John.

Not until the regular season is a few games old will Andrus and the Argos really know what they have. But if there is faltering along the way -- and there is bound to be with so many changes -- patience will be a key.

Cynamon sees last year as a blip. And Andrus doesn't mind that one of his bosses is calling for, and expecting, big things.

"My expectations are higher," Andrus said. "If things go right, anything is attainable. But there are a lot of factors. You have to stay healthy and have to get a few breaks here and there.

"But we don't even know if we can tackle anybody yet because we have not gone live."

General manager Adam Rita and his staff didn't get it right last year when they promoted Rich Stubler to head coach, but he doesn't think there is added pressure because nothing went right in '08. But there should be and, if it comes from the outside, fine. For Rita, Andrus has to be the right choice. A repeat of 2008, and house-cleaning at the management level would be expected.

"I think that kind of stuff is for you guys," Rita said. "We put enough self-imposed pressure on ourselves to get the job done and get it done efficiently. We had to do some drastic things to turn it around, and hopefully this will be turned around."

Some smart on-field improvements were made in the off-season with the additions of Zeke Moreno, Rob Murphy and Dominic Picard. Moreno and Murphy also will be strong voices in the locker room, helping to alleviate the veteran departures.

Kick returner Dominique Dorsey will be the Argos' biggest loss. His all-purpose yards last season were the highlight for Toronto until he was injured, and you can bet the Argos will be watching to see how he does trying to crack the Washington Redskins lineup.

But for all of the changes, the Argos won't get back to the playoffs unless Joseph re-discovers himself in an offence that Andrus will gear toward aggressive ball movement. What if Joseph's overall performance in 2008 was more a slow erosion of his skills than it was a one-off that was caused in part by a team quarterback mess that drew lines across the locker room?

Receiver Andre Talbot, heading into his ninth season in Double Blue, has seen everything from the highs of a Grey Cup win in 2004 to the lows that plagued the team last year. All of the changes that have occurred have put a jump in the 31-year-old's step.

"There's a new lease on life for us," Talbot said. "Last year was a disaster, but it was part of a life cycle of a team.

"Every year, you go in with the mentality that this is the year. And this is not any different. Our job is to win."

But 12 wins?

Only if everything falls nicely into place.

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TORONTO ARGOS' TRAINING-CAMP ROSTER

VETERANS

78. Adriano Belli, DT, Houston

97. Jonathan Brown, DE, Tennessee*

5. Arland Bruce, WR, Minnesota*

47. Jean-Nicolas Carriere, LB, McGill

16. Obed Cetoute, WR, Central Michigan

11. Delroy Clarke, CB, Ottawa

40. Bryan Crawford, RB, Queen's

98. Walter Curry, DT, Albany State*

90. Adrian Davis, DT, Concordia

53. Mark Dewit, OL, Calgary

32. Andre Durie, RB, York

2. Tyler Ebell, RB, Texas-El Paso*

35. Kevin Eiben, LB, Bucknell

99. Ronald Flemons, DE, Texas A&M*

51. Raymond Fontaine, DE, Kentucky

92. Claude Harriott, DE, Pittsburgh*

27. Kenny Heatly, CB, Bethune-Cookman*

29. Pete Hunter, DB, Virginia Union*

33. Jeff Johnson, RB, York

4. Kerry Joseph, QB, McNeese State*

67. Jeff Keeping, OL, Western Ontario

12. Reggie McNeal, WR, Texas A&M*

23. Willie Middlebrooks, CB, Minnesota*

8. Zeke Moreno, LB, Southern California*

56. Rob Murphy, T, Ohio State*

64. Dominic Picard, C, Laval

3. Cody Pickett, QB, Washington*

10. Willie Pile, LB, Virginia Tech*

20. Will Poole, CB, USC*

46. Jason Pottinger, LB, McMaster

57. Brian Ramsay, T, New Mexico

25. Jamal Robertson, RB, Ohio Northern*

65. Taylor Robertson, G, Central Florida

19. James Robinson, WR, Butler County C.C.*

81. Steve Schmidt, FB, San Diego State

15. Tyler Scott, WR, Western Ontario

95. Richard Seigler, LB, Oregon State*

6. Jason Shivers, DB, Arizona State*

80. Brad Smith, WR, Queen's

45. Randy Srochenski, LB, Regina

9. Andre Talbot, WR, Wilfrid Laurier

69. Jonta Woodard, T, Louisville*

26. Jordan Younger, CB, Connecticut*

* -- denotes import

ROOKIES

66. Patrick Afif, OT, Washington State*

44. Derrick Ballard, LB, Memphis*

39. Matt Black, DB, Saginaw Valley**

63. Shannon Boatman, OT, Florida State*

88. Mike Bradwell, WR, McMaster**

87. Philip Brock, WR, Nicholls State*

48. x-Brad Crawford, DB, Guelph

96. Clifford Dukes, DT, Michigan State*

24. Devonte Edwards, CB, North Carolina State*

86. Hank Edwards, WR, Texas Southern*

58. Scott Evans, OT, Wilfrid Laurier

34. James Green, LB, Calgary**

85. Derrick Hamilton, WR, Clemson*

41. Nick Hannah, LB, Eastern Oregon*

84. Kenny Higgins, WR, Toledo*

36. Alphonso Hodge, DB, Miami (Ohio)*

76. Kevin Huntley, DL, Kansas State*

91. Ben Ishola, DE, Indiana*

13. Eddie Johnson, P/K, Idaho State*

79. Ronald Jones, DL, Southern Mississippi*

38. Samuel Joseph, CB, Louisiana State*

61. Brandon Joyce, OT, Illinois State*

28. Will Judson, WR/KR, Illinois*

43. John Keith, LB, Arkansas-Pine Bluff*

71. Matt Lambros, WR, Liberty**

14. Kinsmon Lancaster, QB, Louisiana-Monroe*

93. Etienne Legare, DT, Laval**

37. Reggie Lewis, CB, Florida*

48. Jay Lucas, RB, SE Louisiana*

83. Jerome Mathis, WR/KR, Hampton*

94. David McMillan, DE, Kansas*

7. Justin Medlock, K/P, UCLA*

82. Kenny O'Neal, WR/KR, Tennessee*

49. Cory Peoples, DS, South Carolina*

68. Zachary Pollari, OT, Western Ontario**

17. Stephen Reaves, QB, Southern Mississippi*

89. Cleannord Saintil, WR, M. Tennessee St.*

62. Gordon Sawler, OG, St. Francis Xavier**

21. Lin-J Shell, DB, Jacksonville State*

18. Da'shawn Thomas, RB, Salem High*

54. Chris Van Zeyl, OT, McMaster

30. Demetrice Webb, CB, Florida*

59. Richard Zulys, OG, Western Ontario**

** -- roster non-counters (draft selections)

x -- injured


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