Argos coach trusts lineup

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:15 PM ET

Rarely does a team riding a three-game losing streak have an extra bounce in its step.

But for the Toronto Argonauts, the additions that went down this week not only have given the club a renewed sense of confidence but further solidified the belief among the players that head coach Jim Barker is leading the team down the right path.

“The second half of the season, this is the run, and every game is playoff game,” said fullback Jeff Johnson, whose duties likely will increase on Sunday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as running back Cory Boyd recovers from a concussion.

“To bring in key guys like that, it’s big.”

The Argos got in from the rain on Thursday, practising indoors at the Oakville Soccer Club.

Defensive end Ricky Foley, signed on Tuesday, saw some first-team reps, but is expected to back up against Winnipeg; at the other end of the vast field, Justin Medlock, signed on Wednesday, worked out with punter Jamie Boreham.

And other recent acquisitions — offensive lineman Calvin Armstrong, defensive lineman Walter Curry and running back Anthony Alridge, who was signed on Thursday — participated in practice at their various positions.

Armstrong might get some reps against the Bombers. Curry probably needs more practice, while the lightning-quick Alridge can catch the football and might see some time at returner.

Alridge, incidentally, was cut by the Washington Redskins last September on the same day that the NFL club decided former Argo Dominique Dorsey wasn’t worthy either.

But it’s the presence of Foley and Medlock that could keep the Argos in the right hunt through the crucial stage of the season.

There have been times in the recent past when the Argos airlifted in a raft of players. Two years ago, the Argos signed eight in one day, and only Curry still has ties to the club. Tinkering with the lineup, rather than trying to blow parts of it up, was a message to the players that Barker mostly likes what he had.

“As a coaching staff, it’s about making decisions to give us the best opportunity to win games,” Barker said. “I think signing (Foley and Medlock) lifted spirits. Guys saw that we’re not just going to continue. We’re going to do what we have to do to win.

“We understand the importance of this game on Sunday, in our own place and with our fans. There’s no doubt it’s a big ball game for us.”

Medlock can be equated to the money goalie who can win games by himself. Medlock isn’t the last line of defence, but his teammates know they can rely on him and he’ll probably nail a field goal when it’s needed most. Medlock had an 87% success rate last year, and frequently had no problem connecting from the 50-yard range.

Rookie Grant Shaw might be a great kicker some day, but he needs proper teaching first.

“It’s comforting on the team’s part to know that when we get to midfield, we are pretty much guaranteed three points,” Johnson said of Medlock’s prowess.

“You want to put seven points on the board, but that’s something you have in your arsenal.

“To have someone like him back, it gives us a little more confidence in that area.”

Even slotback Jeremaine Copeland, who has won a couple of Grey Cups and has been around for a bit, was a little more jacked up than usual regarding the signings.

“Whenever you think about Foley, he is going to give us some speed, which is what we need,” said Copeland, who expects to play against Winnipeg after missing three games with a dislocated elbow.

“And J-Med, what can I say? He has a great strong leg, is accurate and it’s getting down to crunch time. I think those two pieces are what we need to get going.”


Videos

Photos