Belli remains on a learning curve

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:45 PM ET

About to embark on his 10th season in the Canadian Football League, Adriano Belli remains on a learning curve.

The Argonauts’ nose tackle got under the skin of his new head coach, Jim Barker, during the first quarter of a preseason game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday.

Belli, for whom undisciplined play has been a steady undercurrent in an otherwise solid career, put the Argos in a hole when he jumped offside and drove Ticats quarterback Quinton Porter into the turf.

“Adriano is a work in progress,” Barker said. “And we will continue ... he is what he is. We are working hard to make him understand the importance of being part of a team.

“Adriano goes out with the very best of intentions, always. But he knows what he did was wrong, and we’re going to continue to work on it.”

A year ago, Belli got off on the wrong foot with head coach Bart Andrus, who compared him to a WWE wrestler after Belli took some unnecessary penalties.

Belli got the message, but prior to the season finale, entered the Montreal Alouettes locker room at the Rogers Centre after he was convinced some Als players were sending tape of his rough play to the league.

The CFL responded by suspending Belli for the Argos’ regular-season opener this year in Calgary.

Belli, who has been taking anger-management classes, knew what was coming when approached by a reporter after the win on Sunday, saying, “Just ask.”

When told that Barker said the 6-foot-5, 289-pound Toronto native was still a project, Belli was not overly surprised.

“We thought they moved,” Belli said. “Whenever an offensive lineman moves, I go until the whistle blows. I am not the fastest guy in the world, but if I don’t hear the whistle blow, I keep going.

“All eyes are on me in terms of penalties. I have to do what is best for the team. What I do is run to the ball hard on every play. I stand by not hearing the whistle blow.”

The two penalties put Hamilton at the Argos’ 14-yard line, but Porter threw two incomplete passes, leading to a 22-yard field goal by Sandro DeAngelis.

As a whole, Barker was ticked with the Argos’ penalty trouble.

The most penalized team in the CFL in 2009, the Argos have had it stressed to them in camp that penalties will not be tolerated.

But there they were on Sunday, with 16 penalties for 104 yards. The Ticats were whistled for 14 penalties for 109 yards.

“What was disappointing was we had more penalties,” Barker said. “That was an emphasis and we just need to do better job there.”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca


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