Parker signing proof of Argos' aggressive bent

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

When Jim Barker said last week that his Argonauts would play an aggressive style of football, Byron Parker is the kind of player he had in mind.

“Exactly what I want,” Barker, a week into his tenure as Argos head coach, said on Tuesday. “He gives us a presence on defence. We need players who are not afraid to make a play, and he makes a play.”

These won’t be Bart Andrus’ Argos, thank goodness. Under Barker in 2010, the Argos will have to make plenty of big steps to get to back to an acceptable level of respectability, but along the way, they should be a lot more fun to watch. Parker, who is excellent at reading offences and loves to live on the edge, should ensure that exciting things actually might happen in the secondary, a notion that was lost on the Argos last year.

Parker was run out of town, all the way to Edmonton, when he was traded to the Eskimos in September, for the very reasons Barker wanted him.

Plucked from free agency on Tuesday, along with offensive lineman Cedric Gagne-Marcoux, Parker acknowledged he remains puzzled by his unsanitary sendoff by Andrus. Doesn’t matter, though. Andrus is gone, and Parker is back, the kind of player who should thrive in the man-to-man defensive coverages that Barker will put in place.

“I’m not going to dwell on anything,” Parker said from his off-season home in Atlanta. “I just know I should fit in well with (Barker’s) defence. I’m not going to be taking the conservative route.

“I want to bring a certain attitude and presence back to Toronto. I love it there. It’s like going home again.”

The Argos’ defence was not why they went 3-15 in 2009, as it allowed the second-fewest yards in the Canadian Football League after the Montreal Alouettes. But the Boatmen had just 11 interceptions, the least in the league, and didn’t score a defensive touchdown.

The sticky-fingered Parker had three interceptions in six games for the Eskimos; he will play for the Argos for the fourth time in his pro football career (one long stint interrupted by tryouts with the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles before he was dealt to Edmonton), and wouldn’t mind finding the elixir that enabled him to return six interceptions for touchdowns, one of a handful of franchise interception records he holds, in 2006 and 2007.

“Scoring points on defence was the strength of our team during those years,” Parker, 28, said. “Bringing that mindset back should be our goal and our focus.”

With the additions of Parker and Gagne-Marcoux and the re-signing of receiver P.K. Sam, Barker is relieved that the regular season is inching closer.

“This is what it’s about,” Barker said. “We’re starting to put the pieces together and get the buses running. (General manager) Adam Rita and (assistant GM) Greg Mohns did a great job in getting those guys here.”

Parker, of course, won’t turn the Argos around on his own.

Barker’s depth chart on offence mostly is a bunch of question marks, but he said no decision will be made on quarterback Kerry Joseph until he has hired his staff, which he said will be a “unique crew.” And there remains no contract for return specialist Dominique Dorsey, though the Argos were trying to get one done as “we think a lot of Dominique,” Barker said.

Barker expected he would announce his staff by the end of the week, and he confirmed that he will employ an offensive co-ordinator, a position Andrus unwisely took on himself.

But Parker’s veteran presence in the locker room will be welcome. Most of all, his reappearance on the field should give Argos fans some hope that the short-term future will have more highlights than anything that has transpired in the past two seasons.

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca


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