Argos QB battle begins

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:11 AM ET

TORONTO - Cleo Lemon has seen quite a bit in his pro football career.

From leading the Miami Dolphins to their only win in 2007 to bouncing around between the Baltimore Ravens, San Diego Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars, Lemon has been a part of some interesting situations.

But at no time has the 30-year-old been one piece of such an open field in training camp.

“Never,” Lemon said on Wednesday afternoon at Huron Park in Mississauga, minutes after the Argos’ first session of rookie camp finished. “And that was the intriguing part, was the fact you could come up here and compete. In professional sports, that’s not always the case.

“So to have that opportunity was something special.”

The difference among the quarterbacks in camp was palpable, even after just one workout.

Two years ago, Kerry Joseph and Michael Bishop couldn’t help but look at each other and wonder what the other was doing in an Argonauts jersey; last year, Joseph was sure fortunes would turn around under alleged offensive guru Bart Andrus.

In the end, the Joseph/Andrus coupling proved to be offensive, but not in a good way.

Athleticism

Of the five quarterbacks deemed good enough by head coach Jim Barker for a tryout, Lemon appeared the most comfortable on Day 1. His passes were sharp, and though not all found the intended target, Lemon demonstrated an athleticism that could get him out of lots of trouble against opposing defences.

Gibran Hamdan — who failed to beat out Lemon for a job at the Dolphins’ camp in 2007 and was cut — had more trouble with accuracy, something that was highlighted when he was intercepted by defensive back Josh Abrams. Ken Dorsey didn’t shake off the rust in one day, while Dalton Bell and Danny Brannagan tried to keep it safe.

At this point, Barker doesn’t really care who shows best. There will be no decisions made before veterans get on the field on Sunday.

“We’re looking for that one person to step forward, but it’s not going to happen in rookie camp, I can promise you that,” Barker said. “Rookie camp is to try to prepare them for when the vets get here. And when the vets get here, things will change.

“The game gets faster, the pressure gets more intense. We’re not going to know anything until we get through a few days with (veterans). Every day (after) it will become more clear.

‘Excited’

“I have no anxiety about (bringing in five men who have zero CFL experience). I know all you people do. Seriously, I am excited about it. If we do the right things and schematically try to help them out, we will be successful. They all have the skill sets. I have no anxiety about the quarterback position.”

The quarterbacks have known each other for a while, as the Argos worked some out together before making final decisions on who to sign. As a result, there is camaraderie in the group, and though it’s a competition, they’ve got each other’s backs.

“We have sort of a mini family right now, and Danny is our younger brother,” Hamdan said.

“It’s great when you are around a group that is fair and honest like this quarterback group is.”

Dorsey agreed.

“I have been in situations where it’s a group of quarterbacks competing and no one talks to each other,” Dorsey said. “Guys throw guys under the bus. Guys are not going to do that here. It’s not the way this team was built.”

The adversity Lemon has faced in the past might be an advantage for him now.

“One thing you learn that when you work hard in life, sometimes it does not go your way,” Lemon said.

“You get punched in the mouth and you fall down, you still have to get back up. That’s what I learned.

“I’m looking at this as I am trying to compete to be the starter. I’m not even thinking about finishing second.”


Videos

Photos