Dropped balls befuddle Bart

BILL LANKHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

Butterfingers.

Favourite snack of Toronto Argonauts receivers.

Combine a severe case of the dropsies -- not to mention brain cramps by veterans Andriano Belli and Arland Bruce -- and it has been anything but a peaceful introduction to the CFL for head coach Bart Andrus.

"Don't encourage them to find another way (to mess up). I've only got so many fingers to put in the dike," Andrus said yesterday, laughing.

When he leads the Argos into Montreal Friday night, it will mark the first-third of a season that already hangs in the balance.

"We divide the season into threes. We have the opportunity to go 3-3 with four of those games being on the road. That's not exactly where you'd choose to be but it's not that bad, either," Andrus said.

He lost his kicker on the opening play of the season. Since, turnovers, interceptions and mental meltdowns, plus the soap opera that saw Bruce dealt to Hamilton, have dominated the season.

The injury bug also has bitten. P.K. Sam, one of the Argos' best pass catchers not named Arland last year, rejoined the team yesterday after being cut by the Bills.

"It's no secret the financial difference is huge ... but I'm happy to be back. With the economy the way it is every job is a blessing."

Sam, recuperating from a sore quad muscle, is expected to practise next week.

"You can rub people the wrong way and just because I was in Buffalo doesn't mean I can just come in and pick up here."

Besides, recent history suggests that for a receiver, joining the Argonauts is like infiltrating the Bermuda Triangle. Andre Talbot, Tyler Scott and Obed Cetoute have been injured. Bruce is history. Chad Lucas and Corey Rodgers are each veterans of one game with Toronto. Reggie McNeal went from third-leading receiver last year to a healthy scratch last week.

"Our biggest nemesis are turnovers," Andrus said.

By his count, giveaways cost the Argos 18 points in their 13-12 loss to Winnipeg.

"If we ever get it right 100%, this is a pretty good team," Andrus said.

"If we could get things right, it would scare me where they could go. We turned the ball over seven times (against Winnipeg). Yet, we had the ball 10 minutes longer, we had almost double the yards..."

Then again, Andrus knew it wasn't going to be easy.

"There was a reason I'm here and it's not because they were undefeated last year,'' Andrus, who inherited the remnants of a 4-14 team, said.

"If that wasn't the case, I probably wouldn't be here. We've seen some major things. Hopefully, things that rear their ugly heads in the future we can handle on the spot."

On the upside, he points to a stingy defence and an offence that has learned it can run the football.

"Our kicker (Justin Medlock, who replaced Eddie Johnson after Game 1) keeps proving himself. When you lay it all out, there's more positives than negatives."

So, how would their head coach grade the Argos?

"I'd have to wait until after (Friday's game in Montreal). If we can win there, we'll be a C-plus. If not, we're sitting on a C, or a C-minus."


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