New look suits Argo vets

Tyler Ebell (centre) jogs across the Argos practice field with Jamal Robertson (left) and Bryan...

Tyler Ebell (centre) jogs across the Argos practice field with Jamal Robertson (left) and Bryan Crawford (right) on Sunday. (Sun Media/Jack Boland)

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

Jettisoned from the Argonauts under different circumstances, Jordan Younger and Jeff Keeping are back after a year away and are finding that not much is the same.

"We have never practised this hard, anywhere I have been," said Younger, who was traded to the Edmonton Eskimos in February 2008 and signed by the Argos in January. "Edmonton, Toronto, nowhere. We're making a conscious effort to play hard and fast. It's fresh, it's exciting, it's new."

Keeping was injured all of last season with the Montreal Alouettes but still learned under coach Marc Trestman, like new Argos coach Bart Andrus a recruit from the National Football League. The resemblance is easy for Keeping to see, and it's good news for Andrus, who promised an up-tempo camp.

KNEE TROUBLE

"A lot of the concepts are the same -- everything is fast-paced and there is a lot of intensity," Keeping said. "We're not trying to hurt each other out there, but there is competition."

An Argo from 2005-07, Keeping signed with the Alouettes a year ago this past winter. But knee trouble kept him from suiting up for the Als, and when the Argos reached out in March, the Uxbridge native didn't hesitate to sign with the team that drafted him in the second round four years ago.

Although Andrus doesn't know any of his players other than what he has watched on video, Younger has slipped back into a first-string spot at cornerback along with incumbent Willie Middlebrooks. An Argo for four years before he was dealt to the Esks in the swap that sent running back Tyler Ebell to Toronto, Younger was not sure what to think when the Argos called after he was released by Edmonton in January.

"But right after I got off the phone, I remember sitting down on the couch and thinking there was no place I would rather be," Younger said. "A fall-off for the (Argos) last year was inevitable. They were on top for a while, and it's hard to stay on top for long. Under (former coach Rich) Stubler, you knew what you were going to get and maybe it got kind of stale. That's what came out on the field last year. It's definitely not stale now."

Keeping's CFL career has been beset by knee injuries and he now wears braces on both legs. Nothing is guaranteed, but he has designs on making a run at a job on the left side of the offensive line. One small bonus for him last year was being along for the ride when the Alouettes advanced to the Grey Cup, where they lost at home to the Calgary Stampeders.

"It was a good experience even though I was hurt," Keeping said. "You see what it takes to get there and hopefully you can take the mental stuff and apply it now."


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