Lemon to start at quarterback

Cleo Lemon looks for a pass during Argos training camp at Huron Park in Mississauga June 4th, 2010....

Cleo Lemon looks for a pass during Argos training camp at Huron Park in Mississauga June 4th, 2010. (Dave Abel/QMI Agency)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:44 PM ET

Cleo Lemon has the football, and it’s his to lose.

Lemon will start at quarterback for the Argonauts in their pre-season game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday afternoon at the Rogers Centre, and though head coach Jim Barker cautioned against reading much into the order in which he will use his quarterbacks, Lemon has earned the right be the guy to take the first snap.

“Mentally, I feel good,” Lemon said after the Argos completed their walkthrough at Erindale in Mississauga on a grey Saturday morning.

“Physically, I feel the body is coming back. It was kind of dragging for a while.

“I will know my strengths and weaknesses after this game is over. I want to get some drives going, get some guys moving around. If we can do that, we will be successful.”

Barker will follow Lemon with Burlington’s Danny Brannagan, followed by Dalton Bell and finally Ken Dorsey. Barker will let the flow of the game dictate the time that each man spends on the field.

“Plans can change, but going in, I would like to see all four of them get an opportunity and see what happens,” Barker said. “I would not say they will get a quarter each. It’s when we are comfortable a guy has had a good taste of it and we have had a good taste of him.

“I do want to get all four in, because it is impossible to evaluate a quarterback in practice. It’s when the lights go on and another team is trying to knock your head off ... things are going to go bad, and it’s how they handle adversity that will go into the evaluation.”

What has the potential to put a dent in a full-and-proper analysis of the quarterbacks, and all of the Argos for that matter, is the fact the Tiger-Cats will have left many of their best players at home.

The Argos will be up against a team of players who won’t have much Canadian Football League experience, but Barker did not find that concerning.

Barker will have a greater understanding of his team next Saturday in Montreal against the Alouettes, when both teams likely will start with the players they expect to start on opening night.

“(Hamilton’s lack of veterans) does not change anything,” Barker said. “Guys are either going to jump offside or not jump offside. Guys are either going to dominate the guy over him or not going to dominate. This is not about the Tiger-Cats. It is about the Argonauts.”

Bell would appear to have the inside track at backing up, but a lot can change in the next week. On Sunday, he has one small advantage over the men who are his competitors for the No. 1 role.

Bell played in a couple of pre-season games with the Saskatchewan Roughriders a year ago, so he is not as green as Lemon, Brannagan or Dorsey.

“I feel a little more prepared,” Bell said.

“Last year I was kind of wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, not knowing what to expect. I want to execute the offence, move it down the field, not make any big mental errors.”

Barker stressed it’s not possible to get a true evaluation of a player in practice and the players know as much.

“You really can’t,” Lemon said.

“(A game will) get our blood flowing, and getting hit and getting everything done the right way procedurally (will help). The base of the offensive system is in. Now, we have to focus on fundamentals and get it done.”


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