Legare earning Argos' respect

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

You'd expect a cultural divide of sorts between a California-born coach once employed by the Tennessee Titans and a francophone line- man who just took up football in his 20s.

But Etienne Legare is communicating just fine with Bart Andrus, who might even learn to refer to his backfield hits as sacs before the year is out. The first-round draft pick of the Argonauts could be on the defensive line faster than anticipated, moving up the depth chart even before training camp began last week when veteran Adriano Belli was felled by a lingering pelvic injury.

"Any time you start losing numbers in one position, the other guys get more reps," Andrus said yesterday. "When you put practice video on, Etienne's doing the things that veterans start to do. That, combined with his high motor, is something that's well-respected on the team. You notice how the veterans accept him, that he's gone through the group at his position.

"He's making the transition from college to pro (but) we need to see him in a game before we make a total confirmation."

Legare was a basketball centre in high school, until a chance meeting with a junior college football coach led him to the grid-iron.

He played under the radar at Laval University, until his fourth year when the 6-foot-3, 260-pounder was on the school's second Vanier Cup team, he won the J.P. Metras Trophy and was invited to the NCAA's East - West Shrine Bowl in Houston.

Toronto, coming off a terrible 4-14 season, took him second overall in the CIS draft after Hamilton picked offensive lineman Simeon Rottier from Alberta.

Legare says he has been growing steadily comfortable since the Argos rookie camp last month. At 26, he's not a freshman in the true sense and that's aided him getting along with the veterans. The presence of fellow Laval grad/lineman Dominic Picard helps, too.

"I know I have a lot to learn, but I think I can be on the roster or practice squad," Legare said. "This is another tough part of camp. I have to understand all the football stuff, I have to express myself in English and sometimes the right word might not come out. But usually, the coach and I always manage to understand each other.

IT'S ALL NEW

"Adriano talked to me a few times betweeen the (rookie and main) camps. I need the help because everything is new to me."

Andrus is crossing his fingers that Belli gets better fast.

"Any time a player has a nagging type injury, you get a little concerned. He's coming along, but it's hard to put a finger on what's going on down there. He has lower abdiominal muscle joint issues.

"There's some inflammation that we're trying to get settled down, because he played with the same injury at the end of the season. We're on the tail end of his rehab right now, we just don't want to turn him loose too early. He'll re-aggravate it because he only knows one way and that's full speed."


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