Unsightly start for Boatmen

BILL LANKHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

Much of the news surrounding the Argonauts this week involved them borrowing money from the British Columbia Lions.

Maybe they could borrow a few players, too. OK, maybe that's harsh. Let's just say Game 1 was not a thing of beauty.

Kerry Joseph may be a CFL veteran but he ended up feeling like a kid in a candy store who just lost his all-day sucker after a less than spectacular second debut as an Argonaut. He was Jekyl and Hyde as the Argonauts opened the exhibition season with a 37-24 loss to the Montreal Alouettes at the Rogers Centre.

Joseph and Arland Bruce were the only players from last year in the starting offensive lineup and whether that's still one too many will depend on Joseph's performance the next few weeks.

"That was rough. I was just too excited. But I did settle down and made some throws and got the ball into the end zone," said Joseph, who missed his first six passes. The Argos never got over mid-field the first 15 minutes.

Not a great new beginning in front of a crowd of 18,241.

He did hook up with Bruce and Tyler Scott for touchdowns before departing at halftime.

"Kerry was really pressing. He wanted so bad to impress everyone," coach Bart Andrus said. "I told him to relax. I told him: 'You can do this in your sleep.' He just needs to get comfortable (with Andrus' new offensive scheme)."

The game took a sombre turn with 27 seconds left in the third quarter when Toronto kick returner Todd Lowber took a hard hit. Players, from both teams, knelt as medics worked about 15 minutes before he was wheeled off.

"What was encouraging is he was moving everything. Not sure if it's a spinal type injury, more of a concussion," Andrus said .

After falling behind 13-0, the Argos closed to 21-17 but the supposedly revamped roster looked awfully familiar. Excentuate awful.

"We've got some areas we need to fix ... we need to catch the football better ... our tackling has to improve." Andrus said. "The first game you shake off rust. We'll be better."

This club was horrid in sustaining drives last year with an average time of possession of 27.43 -- worst in the league. Ditto last night. The 110 first downs was a league low. The running game was non-existent. Last night it was suspect at best. That was supposed to be fixed behind a new offensive line. Suffice to say, it needs a polishing -- the Argos ran the ball seven times in the first half. There was one handoff in the first 42 minutes.

DOWN EARLY

The Argos went two and out in their first possession. Joseph was sacked the next possession. Eddie Johnson had two first-half punts blocked. By the time Matt Black ran into an Argos steam-mate on a kick return the Als had a 13-0 first quarter lead. They could've sent the game film into America's Funniest Home Videos.

So the questions about Joseph were not dispelled. He arrived last year as the CFL's outstanding player. But his passing percentage dropped to 57.3% -- the lowest since his rookie season in 2003. Defensively, the questions also remain. This was a team that allowed a league worst 627 points last year and the Als line dominated last night, running up 462 yards, and that was without regular quarterback Anthony Calvillo.

"It's just learning to work together. We're going to put it together," Joseph said. "We've been at this for about a week and a half we're not going to create magic in 11 days."


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