Lambros in tough with Argos

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

Calgarian Matt Lambros’ first CFL catch was a Canada Day touchdown, but his good luck is truly defined by the cross-shaped surgical star on his pelvis.

That’s where two surgeries were required to remove a large tumour from his stomach that was detected in his teen years.

“When I was 13 or 14, my mom noticed I had a bigger belly than other kids,” Lambros said yesterday. “It ended up that I had a tumor the size of a football. They removed it and thankfully there are no remnants. I had scar tissue build up, which required a second surgery. That was a setback, but right now I have no problems.”

Lambros was able to follow in his father Mike’s CFL cleat marks, a linebacker with the Edmonton Eskimos in the early 1970s. But somewhere between peewee football in Alberta and Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Matt decided he liked the thrill of catching the ball and being hit instead of delivering them.

“I don’t know why I chose that, but my dad was definitely someone I looked up to,” said this year’s second-round draft pick. “So I love being out here now.”

Amid all the bizarre plays in the Argos’ opener in Hamilton — kicker Eddie Johnson’s separated shoulder on the first play, the brawl triggered by a late hit on quarterback Kerry Joseph and Arland Bruce’s controversial Michael Jackson tribute, came Joseph’s 22-yard fling to Lambros, who had made the game roster as a backup because of injuries.

“Definitely a dream come true,” Lambros said. “I had to watch the film a couple of times to make sure it really happened. It was a play I’ve run in camp a lot so I felt really comfortable. We got the coverage we expected, I gave (a Ticats defensive back) a quick move to the outside and as soon as I saw his hips bite, I turned upfield and Kerry just put the ball in a great spot.

“You go back a week before when I thought I would be on the practice roster, then not only playing, but getting a TD. The emotion I had was pretty crazy. My parents were in Calgary watching on TV. Dad was happy, but my brother is the big fan and even more pumped. I was texting with everyone in the family.”

In tough

But Lambros knows he’s in tough to remain a starter for Saturday’s home opener against Saskatchewan. While Andre Talbot (back) remains day-to-day and a painful case of hemmorhoids has made Bruce questionable, the imminent return of Canadian Steve Schmidt means the import ratio could relegate Lambros again.

Coach Bart Andrus has already been pumping Hank Edwards as Bruce’s replacement if it comes to that.

“I expect Hank to step up,” Andrus said. “We have a creed here, when the starter is out, the backup picks up the flag and runs with it. I feel good about the receivers who have been practising with us.

“Matt is still learning, still has a long way to go. He was forced into action a little bit last week, was given an opportunity and made the most of it. I’m very pleased with the progress he has made. We expect him to be playing in this league a long time.”


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