Will Poole has developed into a starter for the Argonauts but at the same time is a rarity.
Final cuts are around the corner in National Football League training camps and Poole, a safety, is one guy who emerged from a group of players the Argos parachuted in almost a year ago after NFL teams made their roster decisions.
"What I would tell a guy who is coming from the NFL is don't come up here with the mentality that you are better than the CFL or players here," Poole, cut by the Kansas City Chiefs last year, said. "Depending on your situation, you might have an opportunity to get back to the NFL, and the CFL is the only place you are going to get that opportunity."
Last September, the Argos added nine players in one shot, the majority recently released by NFL teams, and of them, Poole is the only one who has earned a No. 1 role with Toronto. Two others in that group -- defensive tackle Walt Curry and offensive tackle Chris Van Zeyl -- remain with the Argos but don't play. A week after Poole and others were signed, the Argos brought in defensive end Claude Harriott, who had been let go by the Detroit Lions. Harriott has developed into a starter at defensive end.
Assistant general manager Greg Mohns has been scouting at NFL camps, but Rita doubts any player the Argos might add when practice rosters are expanded will help immediately.
"To bring a guy in and expect him to do something, it takes a while," Rita said. "You're often looking for guys for the future. If someone happens to learn everything in a day or two or in a short period of time, then you try to accommodate that. But that happens rarely."
And the influx led to nothing tangible in 2008. On the day the Argos made their mass signing, head coach Rich Stubler talked about how the players were needed. Within hours, Stubler was fired and the Argos went 0-8 under Don Matthews.
So the Argos, at 2-5 and with the defending Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders at the Rogers Centre tomorrow night, will try to climb back into playoff contention with the players they have. Even after final NFL cuts are made on Sept. 5, it might be too late for Toronto.
Rita and head coach Bart Andrus, who will have some input on NFL refugees after spending last year with the Tennessee Titans, both are steadfast in their thinking that the Argos have the players necessary to make a run up the East Division standings.
"We have to try to get everybody on the same page who are here now," Rita said. "If help comes, good, but it is highly unlikely."