Argos avoid Armstrong

Derick Armstrong failed a physical with the Argos because of a right knee problem and the Boatmen...

Derick Armstrong failed a physical with the Argos because of a right knee problem and the Boatmen chose not to bring him aboard. (Sun Media/Marcel Cretain)

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:58 AM ET

The Argonauts hoped to have a person rather familiar with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to pass along secrets tomorrow night for a critical East Division clash in Manitoba.

But receiver Derick Armstrong, released by the Bombers on July 8, failed a physical with the Argos on Sunday because of a right knee problem and the Boatmen chose not to bring him aboard.

Armstrong's woes date to last season and before each game his knee required freezing.

"We have to look at everything because of our injuries," Argos general manager Adam Rita said yesterday. "Structurally he is fine, and I'm sure he could play, but we can't afford to have people when there is a chance they could be hurt."

A healthy Armstrong would have given the Argos a large boost to a receiving corps that has been torched by injuries.

Head coach Bart Andrus confirmed that rookie Matt Lambros, whose only Canadian Football League catch this season was for a 22-yard touchdown, is out for the year after suffering damage to his right knee ligaments during a 44-9 loss to the Calgary Stampeders last week. Lambros was the Argos' second-round pick this past spring and appeared to have a sound future. Now, that's on hold.

"It will be a total rebuild on it," Andrus said. "It's a very unfortunate thing. We will make sure he gets good rehab. I anticipate him being back. Guys have come back from similar injuries. It's a major knee reconstruction."

Veteran Andre Talbot also is out, though he expects to return from a sprained right ankle on Aug. 1 at home against Winnipeg.

Armstrong, 30, has topped 1,000 yards receiving in three of his five CFL seasons, including each of the past two, and has 20 career touchdowns. But troubles with his knee kept him out of part of training camp, and when Bombers coach Mike Kelly did not start him in the season opener against the Edmonton Eskimos, Armstrong dressed but refused to play. The Bombers sent him packing a week later, but not before he had a heated argument with Kelly.

When the Armstrong option fell through, the club signed Brad Smith and added Chad Rempel to the practice roster.

Question marks won't be limited to the Argos' receiving corps when they take the field at Canad Inns Stadium against the Bombers, who have a similar 1-2 record. The Argos have allowed a league-high 12 sacks (tied with B.C. and Hamilton), and members of the special teams continue to make mental mistakes.

"We have a quarterback (Kerry Joseph) who will extend the play, if anything," Andrus said. "There are times when an individual (on the offensive line) gets physically beat by the guy going against him. That's something we want to try to limit."

Special teams captain Bryan Crawford said there won't be improvement until a couple of things happen.

"You can't have missed calls or blown assignments, and we have to continue to ramp up the energy and the emotion with which special teams guys play," Crawford said.


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