MONTREAL — Dalton Bell, in what could have been only a joke during a post-game interview on Saturday, suggested that if he is cut by the Argonauts on Sunday, he will be satisfied in that he left everything on the field.
This we know: After his performance in a 31-23 loss against the Alouettes on Saturday as the Argos put their 2010 pre-season to bed, Bell has no worries about being cut on Sunday or any other day this week.
But did Bell, who completed 11 of 16 passes for 247 yards and one touchdown, do enough to move past Cleo Lemon to become the Argos’ starting quarterback for the regular-season opener on Canada Day in Calgary?
It certainly looked that way.
Head coach Jim Barker, the man who will make that decision, refused to bite as he talked to a group of rain-soaked reporters at Molson Stadium.
“It’s impossible to tell that,” Barker said.
“Cleo made a lot of good reads and made some bad throws, and that is going to happen. Dalton made some bad throws also.
“We’re going to look at the tape and we’re going to play the guy who gives us the best opportunity (to win).
“Chances are maybe we play one and not be afraid to play other one. So we will see. We will make a decision based on everything since Day 1, not just this game.
“The quarterbacks have a lot to learn.”
Barker will consider that Bell got to attack a bunch of Als defenders who won’t be around after head coach Marc Trestman makes his final cuts, while Lemon, in starting the game, had to deal with most of the Alouettes’ potential starters.
Bell’s pocket presence was one of confidence, and he had no trouble going down field, connecting with Andre Durie for a 56-yard reception in the fourth quarter, and later finding Spencer Watt on a 38-yard strike.
Lemon did not look out of place either, but overthrew receivers too much for Barker’s liking.
Lemon’s mobility is better than Bell’s, but there were times that he was trapped by indecision.
Bell threw two interceptions, whereas Lemon was picked off once.
Bell engineered two touchdown drives, while Lemon completed only seven of 16 passes for 58 yards, none longer than 16 yards.
“I gave it everything I had and I enjoyed every minute of camp, and we’ll see what the coaches have to say,” Bell said.
“I felt good. I know I did my best. There are some things I wish I could have back, like those picks.”
Lemon was not satisfied with his performance, nor should he have been.
The Argos need him to learn the CFL game, but don’t have a lot of time for that to happen.
Bell was the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ third-stringer last year, and though he did not play, it’s experience that could put him ahead when the final call is made by Barker.
“We have to come out a little faster and I have to do a better job of that,” Lemon said. “Montreal has a good defence so it was a good test for us. I felt comfortable seeing the looks, but I missed on some throws early.”
Barker knew the growing pains would be acute when he cleared out the quarterbacks in February and started from scratch. The entire Argos organization is in a state of transition, but the quarterbacks will get the most attention.
A day earlier, Barker spoke of using the defending Grey Cup champion Alouettes as a measuring stick. Now Barker is sure the Argos don’t stack up.
“We have a long way to go and that is not a surprise,” Barker said. “We have rookie quarterbacks, and that is not an excuse, it is a fact. They will get better.
“You always want them to be farther along. It’s like a teacher in school. You want all your kids to get As. But it takes time. You have to have patience and understand it is a new ball game for them.”