These Argos are no pushovers

Frank Zicarelli, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:16 PM ET

He is the helmsman of the offensive line, whose responsibility it is to make the correct blocking calls and the necessary adjustments.

It is a role centre Dominic Picard relishes.

Picard and tackle Rob Murphy arguably were the Argos’ most prized off-season acquisitions and among the most coveted free agents in the CFL.

Each is physically and mentally tough.

They play each snap with an edge and attitude and give the Argos a dimension that has eluded them in recent years.

When the Argos made their regular-season debut last Wednesday in Hamilton, Picard and Murphy each was flagged for unnecessary roughness.

Picard came to the aid of quarterback Kerry Joseph, whom he felt was being victimized by an overzealous Ticats’ defender.

“I take a lot of pride in protecting our quarterback,” Picard said yesterday following practice.

“That’s just the attitude I bring to the football field.”

The Argos have remade their on-field look.

Nowhere is the change more profound than on the offensive line, both in terms of personnel and philosophy.

While all five interior positions are important, the most crucial are at centre and at left tackle.

Every snap from scrimmage, after all, begins with the centre.

Most quarterbacks are right-handed, meaning a left tackle protects the signal-caller’s blind side.

“Our line is far from being a finished product," Picard said. “We just need more time to get more polished and to get our timing down better.”

Against the Ticats, the Argos started Murphy, Picard, Brian Ramsay and Taylor Robertson at guard and Jonta Woodard at right tackle, while Mark Dewit and Jeff Keeping dressed as backups.

Barring an injury, the same seven-member group will dress for Saturday’s regular-season home opener against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Argos gave up four sacks against the Ticats, in part because Joseph held on to the football too long and in part because linemen got beat in one-on-one matchups.

“It’s all about developing chemistry," Picard said. “We’re new and we don’t know each other yet, but we’re coming along and every week we’re going to make progress.”

Saskatchewan will bring what Picard calls an “exotic” defensive approach, a style that will disguise coverage and use multiple looks.

For Picard, any game against Saskatchewan carries more meaning.

“People around here are used to the Argo-Ticat rivalry, but the rivalry between Winnipeg and Saskatchewan is just as intense," said Picard, who played the first three years of his career with the Blue Bombers.

“And besides, Saskatchewan beat us (Bombers) in the (2007) Grey Cup.”

Saskatchewan’s Grey Cup-winning quarterback was Joseph.

Picard doesn’t mince words when discussing his mind-set.

“To me, the offensive line represents the five fingers on a hand," he said. “When you bring them together, you form a fist.

“When you have a fist, you punch harder than having the fingers spread out.”

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos